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Monday, March 25, 2013

Our Beloved Artists of the Month of March

March is the month that is between Winter and Summer.  Yes, spring starts in March, but not where I live in the Mid-Alantic.

The word 'March' comes from the Roman 'Martius'. This was originally the first month of the Roman calendar and was named after Mars, the god of war.  March was the beginning of our calendar year. We changed to the 'New Style' or 'Gregorian calendar in 1752, and it is only since then when we the year began on 1st January.


I am about to share with you the month of March from an artist's point of view.

March 1:  Augustus Saint-Gaudens born 1848, Dublin, Ireland—died Aug. 3, 1907, Cornish, New Hampshire, U.S., generally acknowledged to be the foremost American sculptor of the late 19th century, noted for his evocative memorial statues and for the subtle modeling of his low reliefs.Saint-Gaudens also made many medallions, originally as a diversion from more serious tasks. These works show the influence of Renaissance medals as well as his early cameos. Among them are designs for U.S. coins.
Sherman Memorial by Saint-Gaudens

Gold $20 Coin by Saint-Gaudens



March 2:  Bedrich Smetana, Czech composer, born 1824.
                 Kurt Weill, German composer, born 1900.

March 5:  Heitor Villa-Lobos, Brazilian composer, born 1887.

March 6:  Renaissance genius Michelangelo (1475- February 18, 1564) was born in Caprese, Italy. He was a painter, sculptor, architect, poet and visionary best known for his fresco on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel and his sculptures David and The Pieta. Michelangelo was considered the greatest living artist in his lifetime, and ever since then he has been held to be one of the greatest artists of all time. A number of his works in painting, sculpture, and architecture rank among the most famous in existence.


Sistine Chapel
 Elizabeth Barrett Browning, English poet, (orn 1806 – 29 June 1861) was one of the most prominent poets of the Victorian era. Her poetry was widely popular in both England and the United States during her lifetime.[1] A collection of her last poems was published by her husband, Robert Browning, shortly after her death.
How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.
I love thee to the depth and breadth and height

My soul can reach, when feeling out of sight
For the ends of Being and ideal Grace.
I love thee to the level of everyday's
Most quiet need, by sun and candle-light.
I love thee freely, as men strive for Right;
I love thee purely, as they turn from Praise.
I love thee with a passion put to use
In my old griefs, and with my childhood's faith.
I love thee with a love I seemed to lose
With my lost saints, --- I love thee with the breath,
Smiles, tears, of all my life! --- and, if God choose,
                                                          I shall but love thee better after death.                                                               
                                                                    Elizabeth Barrett Browning


March 7:    Maurice Ravel, French composer, born 1875.
March 9:    Samuel Barber, American composer, born 1910.
March 10:  Arthur Honegger, French composer, born 1892.
March 11:  Torquato Tasso, Italian poet, born 1544. 
March 12:   Gabriele d'Annunzio, Italian poet, born 1863.
March 13:  Johann Wyss, Swiss author, born 1781

March 14:  Johann Strauss was born October 25, 1825, in Vienna, Austria. His father, Johann Strauss the Elder, was a self-taught musician who established a musical dynasty in Vienna, writing waltzes, galops, polkas, and quadrilles and publishing more than 250 works. Johann the Younger left his family in 1842 and surpassed his father's popularity and productivity, becoming known as the “Waltz King.”

March 18:  Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov, Russian composer, born 1844

March 19:  Ballet producer Sergei Diaghilev born 1872.
March 20:  Henrik Ibsen, Norwegian poet and dramatist, born 1828.
                  Lauritz Melchior, Danish tenor, born 1890.

March 21: Organist and composer Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750) was born in Eissenach, Germany. His output included thousands of compositions, many used in churches. Among his best known works; The Brandenburg Concertos for orchestra, The Well-Tempered Clavier for keyboard, the St. John and St. Matthew passions, and the Mass in B Minor.

St. Matthews Passions, As sung by the Helsinki Boy's Choir

 March 21:  Modest Mussorgsky, Russian composer, born 1839

March 22:   Sir Anthony Van Dyck, Flemish painter, born 1599.    

                   Randolph Caldecott, English illustrator, born 1846.

March 23:   Roger Martin du Gard, French novelist and Nobel Prize-winner for literature, born 1881.

March 24:  1834 - Oct 3, 1896, William Morris was an English textile designer, artist, writer, and libertarian socialist associated with the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood and English Arts and Crafts Movement. He founded a design firm in partnership with the artist Edward Burne-Jones, and the poet and artist Dante Gabriel Rossetti which profoundly influenced the decoration of churches and houses into the early 20th century.

Two Angels, Stained Glass, William Morris 

Strawberry Thief, furnishing fabric, designed Morris, 1883

William Morris Tiles

March 25:  Arturo Toscanini, Italian conductor, born 1867.
                   Bela Bartok, Hungarian composer, born 1881.

March 26:   A. E. Housman, English poet, born 1859.
                    Robert Frost, American poet, born 1874.
March 26:  American playwright Tennessee Williams (1911-1983) was born in Columbus, Mississippi. His works featured Southern settings and include; The Glass Menagerie, Night of the Iguana, and two Pulitzer Prize winning plays, A Streetcar Named Desire and Cat on a Hot Tin Roof .

        


March 27:  Lithographer Nathaniel Currier born 1813 – November 20, 1888 was an American lithographer, who headed the company Currier & Ives with James Ives.

March 30:  Vincent Van Gogh(1853-1890) was born in Groot Zundert, Holland. He was a Postimpressionist painter, generally considered the greatest Dutch painter after Rembrandt. During his short (10-year) painting career he produced over 800 oil paintings and 700 drawings, but sold only one during his lifetime. In 1987, the sale of his painting Irises brought $53.9 million, the highest price ever paid for a work of art up to that time. During his life, Van Gogh suffered from despair and bouts of mental illness, at one point cutting off part of his own left ear. He committed suicide in 1890 by gunshot.

Vincent van Gogh Starry Night Painting
"Starry Night", Van Gogh


"Irises", Van Gogh
March 30:  Francisco Goya, Spanish painter, born 1746

Dona Isabel Cobos De Porcel - Francisco De Goya y Lucientes - www.franciscodegoya.net

Isabel Cobos De Porcel by Goya
March 31:  Franz Joseph Haydn (1732-1809) was born in Rohrau, Austria. Considered the father of the symphony and the string quartet, his works include 107 symphonies, 50 divertimenti, 84 string quartets, 58 piano sonatas, and 13 masses. Based in Vienna, Mozart was his friend and Beethoven was a pupil.
  
.   


March Poems:
"I wandered lonely as a cloud
That floats on high o'er vales and hills,
When all at once I saw a crowd,
A host, of golden daffodils;
Beside the lake, beneath the trees,
Fluttering and dancing in the breeze."
William Wordsworth, Daffodils

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"March is the month of expectation,
The things we do not know,
The Persons of Prognostication
Are coming now.
We try to sham becoming firmness,
But pompous joy
Betrays us, as his first betrothal
Betrays a boy."
Emily Dickinson, XLVIII

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"Oh, give us pleasure in the flowers in the flowers today;
And give us not to think so far away
As the uncertain harvest; keep us here
All simply in the springing of the year.

Oh, give us pleasure in the orchard white,
Like nothing else by day, like ghosts by night;
And make us happy in the happy bees,
The swarm dilating round the perfect trees."
Robert Frost, A Prayer in Spring

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"The year's at the spring
And day's at the morn;
Morning's at seven;
The hillside's dew-pearled;
The lark's on the wing;
The snail's on the thorn;
God's in His heaven -
All's right with the world!"
-  Robert Browning

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Plays about March:

Beware the ides of March

Caesar:
Who is it in the press that calls on me?
I hear a tongue shriller than all the music
Cry "Caesar!" Speak, Caesar is turn'd to hear.

Soothsayer:
Beware the ides of March.
Caesar:
What man is that?
Brutus:
A soothsayer bids you beware the ides of March.
Julius Caesar Act 1, scene 2, 15–19
 by Shakespeare
The "ides" of March is the fifteenth; which day of the month the ides is depends on a complicated system of calculation Caesar himself established when he instituted the Julian calendar.
The importance of the ides of March for Caesar is that it is the day he will be assassinated by a group of conspirators.  Shakespeare borrowed this scene, along with other details of Caesar's demise, from Plutarch's Life of Julius Caesar.

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Let us remember and salute what these great artists have given the world!

Best to all,

Maria

Saturday, March 23, 2013

What is Soap? Where is the Lye in Soap? The Mystery of Soap Making



We have contemplated spring through the gloomy and cold days of winter.  But through that time much has been happening!
"Back in the day" we would have already used half of our yearly supply of soap made last fall. Fall was the time to slaughter animals, and use the tallow and lard for soap making.  Water was steeped through ashes to produce the alkali or lye water of an undetermined strength, which produced soap of an undetermined hardness.


Maria Making Soap in Modern Times

Making Soap From Lye in Colonial Days


What is soap?  What are the ingredients? 
Where did the Lye Go?


The term saponification is the name given to the chemical reaction that occurs when a vegetable oil or animal fat is mixed with a strong alkali. The products of the reaction are two: soap and glycerin. Water does not enter into the chemical reaction. The water is only a vehicle for the alkali, which is otherwise a dry powder.
The name saponification literally means "soap making". The root word, "sapo",
is Latin for soap. The Italian word for soap is sapone. Soap making as an art
has its origins in ancient Babylon around 2500 - 2800 BC.
The oils used in modern handmade soap are carefully chosen. Coconut oil creates lots of glycerin, makes big bubbly lather, and is very stable. Olive oil has natural antioxidants and its soap makes a creamier lather. Many other oils can be used,
each one for a specific reason.
The alkali used in modern soap is either potassium hydroxide, which is used to make soft soap or liquid soap because of its greater solubility, or sodium hydroxide, which is used to make bar soap. The common term for the alkali became simply "lye".
Soap made in cottages and on farms in earlier American times became known as "lye soap". That term now denotes a harsh soap with excessive amount of caustic. Weighing and measuring techniques were crude, and knowledge of soap chemistry
was elementary or non-existent.
The true fact is that modern handcrafted soap, though necessarily made with lye to get
true soap, has no lye in the final product. It has all been reacted with the oils to
form soap and glycerin.
 A fact about the most common massed-produced soap found in the grocery store does
 have a small amount of excess alkali in it. Also, all of its naturally-occurring glycerin
is removed to be sold as a separate commodity. Why? Greater profit. An important difference between most commercial soap and our Coastal Cottage Soaps is
that the glycerin is left in and thus it retains its natural
moisturizing property.
from Real Handmade Soap

COASTAL COTTAGES SOAPS MADE THIS WINTER
The soap shop has produced limited quantities of soap after the made holiday rush.  We are now whipping up popular and new varieties.

Photo: Wow, it is already close to Valentine's Day!  
Don't forget about handcrafted artisan soaps to brighten your winter woes.  Check out "Pink Swirl" Artsy Soaps and many others.  My soap shop continues to create a great line of soaps & products. Order on line or message me on FB for special delivery in Kent County Delaware.  Remember every day is "Small Business Day."  Find it all at:  http://www.coastalcottagesoaps.com/#!our-store./vstc1=artsy-artisan-glycerine-collection
Pink Swirl Artsy Glycerin Soap
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     Restocking newly made "Castile Soap" for an online customer. Only 100% Extra Virgin Olive Oil, no other vegetable or animal fats. First made in the Castile region of Spain in the 16th century and the 1st example of hard, white soap.
     Ca
stile soap is moisturizing and gentle to the skin, containing no colors, dyes or detergents so it can be used on babies and people with sensitive skin. This batch is unscented, but smells like "Clean Linen." New large 5 oz size. I will be adding lavender, peppermint, and pomegranate to this product line called, Liberto's Castile Sopone.  Check out coastalcottagesoaps.com to purchase.

Photo: Restocking newly made "Castile Soap" for an online customner. Only 100% Extra Virgin Olive Oil, no other vegetable or animal fats.  First made in the Castile region of Spain in the 16th century and the 1st example of hard, white soap. 
  Castile soap is moisturizing and gentle to the skin, containing no colors, dyes or detergents so it can be used on babies and people with sensitive skin. This batch is unscented, but smells like "Clean Linen."  New large 5 oz size.  I will be adding lavender, peppermint, and pomigrante to this product line called, Liberto's Castile Soaps. 
 
It is a clean business:  www.coastalcottagesoaps.com
Order on-line or FB message.
Liberto's Unscented Castile Sopone

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     As colorful as Easter Eggs! Here is my assortment of Coastal Cottage WOOL FELTED SOAPS, the latest craze by wool fiber artists and soap makers. Imagine soap wrapped with it's own wash cloth and lots of
 natural lather to cleanse your body.
     Colorful wool fibers are wrapped around each handmade bar of soap made by this soap maker
and then hand felted to the bar.
     As you use the sudsy soap the wool will shrink with the size of the bar. Sorry no selection of
fragrance, I send whatever is in stock.

2 Bar Set: $9.95 which includes all natural ingredients.
Go to coastalcottagesoaps.com to purchase!


Photo: As colorful as Easter Eggs!  Here is my assortment of Coastal Cottage WOOL FELTED SOAPS,  the latest craze by wool fiber artists and soap makers.  Imagine soap wrapped with it's own wash cloth and lots of natural lather to cleanse your body.  
   Colorful wool fibers are wrapped around each handmade bar of soap made by this soapmaker and then hand felted to the bar. 
   As you use the sudsy soap the wool will shrink with the size of the bar. Sorry no selection of fragrance, I send whatever is in stock.
2 Bar Set:  $9.95 which includes all natural ingredients.
Felted Wool Natural Soaps
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This is a rather new edition to the line up of soap.  Unscented Aloe Vera & Calendula, a great product for those with blemished and other problems.  The healing properties of Aloe and Calendula in a totally natural and unscented bar has been tested with positive results.  Just ask my grandsons!

Unscented Aloe Vera & Calendula Soap


Thanks for taking the soap making journey with me.  I continue to produce many varieties of natural and artsy designer soaps.  It is a satisfying and clean business. 
I am blessed to be on this journey.


My Best to all,
Maria Liberto Bessette