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“bread bread bread bread bread”

March 6, 2014 at 8:31 pm

a drawing of a mixing bowl and flour with instructions for mixing bread

So local weirdo, friend, genius Jacob published the “tasty bread” recipe, from my 2008 zine & 2010 print, in the center spread of January’s Mothers News newspaper. I sent him the old illustrator files & he laid it out in a nice layout & mailed/distributed it to hundreds (possibly thousands?) of people all over the U.S. / world.

hand holding a sheet of newspaper with an illustrated bread recipe on it

I was excited, it’s pretty cool to have those graphics back in circulation (and to have them reach such a varied audience)! But I was also like, hmm, I have been changing & experimenting with this recipe a good deal since 2008, and that’s a long time ago now. I make bread often, and sometimes very publicly (last year I was selling loaves at a weekly coffee-shop/social-gathering thingy I was running, and through my friends’ farm CSA… and I’ll be making bread for the Providence Provision dinner this weekend, Sunday March 9th!). Thus there are a decent amount of people in town who have put this bread into their mouths… and later asked for the recipe…

So, when people ask me if the recipe on the poster is the same recipe as the bread I make now, I do say “Yes, but… I am always modifying it! and I’ve changed the proportions to make 5 (or 9) loaves at a time… but it’s the same core recipe”. This is true. But it’s also true that I haven’t made the 2-loaf version from the zine / print / MN centerspread in quite a long time…

Well, this week finds me in East Williamsburg, Brooklyn, NY hanging out with my brother, his partner, and their baby, my super-new niece! I’m washing lots of dishes, shopping, cooking, letting a small life form sleep in a frog-like position on my chest so she will stay chill while her parents do other things, etc. Today the bread selection at the nearby store was a little limited… AND look what’s on the wall in their apartment:

a horizontal, blue screenprinted poster in a frame

So I decided to test the recipe. My initial intention was to follow it “exactly” from the poster… but… there was some leftover rice kicking around… and my brother & his partner have all these weird seeds & nuts & dried fruits in their kitchen, & by weird I mean awesome (and that I don’t have them in my kitchen)… so I varied it just a little…

a closeup of the bread poster showing mixing the ingredients

There’s no real suspense here, it still works great! What did I expect? Though I would recommend making it in “medium” loaf pans — 1.5 quart, 5″x8″ish — in “large” pans I got flatter rather than higher loaves, which is no big issue except maybe aesthetically. Also — this version of the recipe is prettty sweet, maybe there’s a little too much molasses, you could probably cut it down to 1/3 or even 1/4 cup.

Alternately… one thing I’ve realized only recently, after seven (!) years of making this bread recipe, is that you can let it do that first rise for a long time. Like, you can knead it & set it aside in a big bowl under some plastic wrap, & go out and do all your errands and go to the art opening and run into your friends and drink a whiskey and actually *forget* about the bread, & come back and make it into loaves and let them rise and bake them, & it will be FINE. The longer you let it rise, the less sweet it gets as the sugars in the molasses are consumed by the yeast… so if you like it less sweet, just let it rise longer! (there is a limit to the above; I would say maybe 6-8 hours is gonna start pushing it on the rising time? but yaknow, if it looks over-risen, might as well make loaves & bake it anyways, the worst that can happen is that you’ll get a weirdly-textured but most likely still tasty baked item…!)

closeup of bread poster showing preparation of the dough

I also stirred up one egg white & brushed it on top with some more sunflower seeds… which looked pretty, and was tasty, but the egg white also slid down the sides of the pan and made it a little difficult to get the loaves out?

part of the bread loaf stuck to the pan

Or maybe that is just because these pans aren’t coated with a permanent layer of baked-on oil… like the pans at my house… which I strategically never really scrub that hard… shhhh….

two loaves of bread

Looks pretty good, right? This recipe is the same as the one you can read/get a pdf of here (the progress description is an un-updated snapshot of the stage of this project from 2008 sometime? ha ha! oh, my sad website), with these changes: instead of 4.5 cups unbleached all-purpose flour, I used 2 c. a-p flour, 2 c. whole wheat flour, and 1/2 c. wheat germ… I added 1/2 cup of leftover, cooked rice to the oatmeal cooking mush… and 1/3 cup of sunflower seeds to the middle of the kneading stage (and the above-mentioned egg white glaze with more seeds on top).

Here are some more past updates about bread-baking, bread poster layout, etc. (including this one of course)…

You can also buy the blue, horizontal, screenprinted bread recipe poster here… AND/OR if you SUBSCRIBE to Mothers News for 2014, you’ll get the back issues including the bread-recipe one, so you’ll have a sparse, black-and-white newsprint copy of the recipe as well. And I just got my automatic stapler back from a long-term loan, so the long-promised third edition of the recipe zine, with detailed instructions, might be re-released someday possibly…

… someday.

ps. Bonus photo! here’s the kiddo! The Downtown Boys‘ newest fan…

baby resting against a pink shirt for the band Downtown Boys

pps. “Bread bread bread bread bread” (etc) is what my friends used to claim was the internal monologue of the almost-wordless baker character in Kiki’s Delivery Service… Now, sometimes, I think that to myself while I am baking… does that mean that this is me?

drawing of the baker, Studio Ghibli

making challah at the all-night art lock-in at New Urban Arts

April 20, 2009 at 9:17 am

late Friday night/early Saturday morning: while others were sleeping, we were making challah bread. Thanks everybody!

10:34 pm. Mixing the dough:


10:35 pm. “Can I use my hands?”


10:36 pm. It feels soft, squishy, and good.

crazy hands!

10:39 pm. Kneading:

kneading part 1

bread business

November 2, 2008 at 6:41 am

Finally (and only a week late, really) the layout of the bread poster is done! Actually, really only half the layout is done, since the transparencies for the other two colors will be made by hand. However, that will be the relaxed part, this work on the computer made me a little crazy, with its pretenses of / pressure towards precision…

The two transparencies for the text and the line drawings will be printed by the very professional and excellent I-O Labs in Pawtucket! It’s costly, but really not that expensive in the grand scheme of things: and at this point I’ve messed around enough with these layouts on the computer that I don’t want to mess around any more with piecing them together from photocopier transparencies…


As you can see, this idea has shifted its format away from the previously mentioned vertical poster style. Here’s a screen-captured fragment of a version of that one:


…which was just too hard to read, besides which, I ran out of room on the paper (which is stuff I had around from an older project, cut very precisely in long strips (7.375″ high) on the big cutter at Black Cat).

The sequence of the steps simply flowed better horizontally, and for some reason I could fit more in. No theories about this right now! Here’s the main poster layout (center) with the two color layers at top and bottom:


One more detail:


Conclusion: lots of fun to draw stuff freehand with ink & brush on Bristol board. Less fun (though rewarding in its own way) finagling the scans around on the computer, in a seemingly endless fashion. Satisfying to have it ready to go (still, however, there’s that computer-work feeling of “but isn’t there more I could do?). Scary to be turning it over to the printers’ and hoping the transparency comes out well. I’m predicting it’ll be hard for me to print accurately since it is so long, lining things up will be a pain. But overall, I am pretty psyched with this concept and execution, so far.

Next step thoughts: One of the other layers will be rubylith cutouts to track the shape of the dough through the process… The other one will be messy ink painting and scraping on mylar, to form large letters behind the line-drawings and to highlight the path through the sequence. This color will be printed low-contrast to the paper… maybe even just transparent base to change its value a little… we’ll see…

…and yes, this is what I used my extra hour of daylight savings time for!

endlessly frustrating times

October 21, 2008 at 5:08 am

it’s been a little rough recently: emotional turbulence, lots of questioning of current and future paths, stressful deadlines… compounded by photoshop crashing repeatedly for some reason, continuous bullshit and noise from the downstairs neighbors, daily logistics that I really should have more under control at this point, and other random crap. Everything from poster projects to simple endeavors (ie. buying new sneakers) is always more complicated than it seems like it will be at first… also I keep forgetting to eat meals which just ends me up in bigger trouble later on, when I’m then extra-hungry and trying to scrounge up food for myself…

on the plus side, however, I did go to the beach and make a bonfire with friends last night, it was great. The night before that (when I was already really emotionally overwhelmed) the base of my desk chair came apart all of a sudden, which caused me a huge amount of stress: since my back has been hurting recently, this chair is more or less the only place I can sit that doesn’t feel terrible. however… I did manage to repair it!


yeah, it’s kind of shoddy. when I get this next set of things done, I’ll try to do a more comprehensive repair: but for now it does the trick. Hooray!

I draw bread (again)

October 16, 2008 at 8:10 am

I am drawing for the bread poster. After some meandering speculation with making it dense with text like a 1700s broadside newspaper, I finally picked up the pencil and started doodling out the steps… and it turns out that it’s going to be a 7.5-inch-wide, 35-inch-tall, strip of graphic bread-making narration. In a totally different visual and narrative style from the zine. (These things are rarely within my control.) The format shift has something to do with the idea of “the difference between reading and seeing”, which comes from a quote from Chris Ware (re. differences between comics, paintings, and books) which I wrote down six+ years ago, in a sketchbook that I cannot put my hands on at the moment…

… nor can I articulate my version of this idea very well at this hour of the morning/night! However, you should all clear a 36″ high strip on your walls in your kitchens, somewhere where you can see it from your counter area…

ink on bristol board drawing bread-making steps

detail: a detail of the small drawing

As I was drawing these images I realized that this poster will owe a debt to my friend Lauren O’Connor’s artwork. I’m not sure this picture does her awesome ink drawings justice, but here is a shout out anyways! This is from the installation she made in the Dirt Palace front window in 2005.

detail of window installation by lauren o

other stuff that happened recently: worked on re-starting kitchen thinking at Forbes; my brother helped me make a good plan for the next two months; found myself glued to the most recent presidential debate; helped set up and clean up at New Urban Arts, since the program year is starting (I’m not going to be a mentor there this year, but will be helping out with the silkscreen studio); got paperwork and logistics done (more or less on time!) for shows I’m gonna be in; finally bought new sneakers (after accepting the fact that wearing super-busted sneakers for the past six months is probably what is making my back hurt a lot recently); and…. cleaned off my desk: all of it this time, not just the minimum corner! There is more work to do on room/work area functionality, but the clear desk is a real start. My housemate helped me make this animated gif!!!!!!!!! to promote my work on the Craftland website. I got two great letters in the mail today from internet/faraway friends… thank you! watch your mailboxes…


  • The Case Against ‘Modern Architecture’ — an essay by Lewis Mumford
  • La luna é i faló (“the moon and the bonfires”) — by Cesare Pavese, reading in Italian. I started it a long time ago and got about 1/5 of the way through. Recently I went back and read it from the beginning, understanding about 90% of the vocabulary, but sailing through and making good guesses along the way. The end was stark and sad, it surprised me…
  • Heroes and Ghosts — prints by Kuniyoshi (1800s)
  • Red Mars — by Kim Stanley Robinson (science fiction about group dynamics, landscape, and buildings. yessss)
  • Elementary Economics — by Thomas Carver and Maude Carmichael, 1938 (my housemate’s grandfather’s high school textbook: “There was never a time when men needed to think so seriously about the problems of national welfare as at the present.” !!!)
  • the ULINE catalog (shipping and warehouse supplies)

okay, that last entry in the list probably means it’s time for bed.

photo reference for the bread poster…
bread dough!!!

finishing and beginning… part 1.

August 19, 2008 at 6:57 am

The bread zine is done, I kind of gave away all my copies at the zine swap, but… I’m gonna make more. It’s still a rough draft, so if you’d like to try out the recipe and give me feedback (on recipe, instructions, design, etc), I will totally send you one: email me!

Here are some sketches of the beginning of a new project:

[sketches in chronological order L-R, click for a larger version]

This has been cooking in my brain for a while, but it all came together just now thanks to a false-alarm deadline. I wanted to donate a print to the AS220 print lottery, and for some reason I’d convinced myself that I had to make a brand new print for it… in a week and a half. So I thought about it, discussed it with Mr. Monti my patient and distractable housemate, finally got an idea from a book that’s been sitting in our bathroom for months, and started working frantically, late-late-nite, on these sketches. A day and a half later, I came to my senses and realized I could just give AS220 an already-made print for the lottery, and not have to stress out about it. Yeah!

The drawings, however, kind of ended up embodying an idea I’d been verbalizing (but not yet envisioning) for the print I am going to make through Tiny Showcase: “kitchen, ordinary life, view out window… but no cat, that’s too cheesy.” So now, after a meeting with my distant cousin Dan Wood, the letterpress printer who will be printing the image for TS, the idea has taken on its own life: there will be a small (er… tiny) letterpress version, available through Tiny Showcase in the late fall (?), and a larger screenprinted version, hopefully by late November.

There will be some nice, elegant differences between the two, which have their origins in our different printing methods. The letterpress version will be printed on rice paper, which would get all wrinkly if I printed on it with silkscreen inks. The colors will be different, and will also be used in different ways within the two prints: for instance, I’ll use gray/brown paper and print white on top of it, but since Dan can’t print white over dark with his oil-based inks, the paper he uses will be white. The transparencies will have changes and reversals to make this possible… etc.

[small sketch of the final composition, roughly…]

As I’ve drawn more on the full-sized drawing, I’ve gotten more and more excited about it. I’ve been looking at some Japanese woodblock prints, to inform the composition & other details. There’s a quote that goes along with the image (from that book in the bathroom!) which I think will be printed below it in both prints, large and small. The implications of the text resonate with everything that ended up showing up in the drawing… I think it will come together well, though it will be a while before I print my version of it.

not least: There has been amazing weather here in Providence for the past couple of weeks, an unusually cool and pleasant August. This makes all work and life so much more possible in our not-air-conditioned house, and the lovely days that mix rain and sun make the garden super bountiful.

also — the skies have been beautiful, tempting me out of the house for many bike rides!

click for the full image, looking north from Sprague St. in south prov:

…on the main secretdoor site, I updated the in progress page, and added a page for the near future, which, though already out of date, gives me a chance to put all (“all”) my projects on one page.

also, Jacob Berendes has finally put up an online catalog, where you can get awesome stuff from his Junk Store, including a poster I made and the classic “Worcester: Paris of the Eighties” T-shirt. If you like the stuff, buy it! and help HBML pay their rent & survive another two or two million years.

sticky developments

August 7, 2008 at 6:14 am

Out of the incredible ‘one-man’s-trash-is-another’s-treasure’ troves of my friend Rob C. comes this amazing stovetop “Stovey McTop”, which, despite being somewhat grubby-looking in this crummy partial photograph, is functional!

It’s pretty much exactly what we were looking for, for the Forbes St. kitchen project. An old-school, relatively heavy-duty electric stovetop, with coil burners (not the weird glass ones that are easily damageable and can’t heat up as hot…). It not only has a fifth tiny weird burner, as you can see in the upper left of the photo, but it has TWO large burners: important for a household which cooks meals for twelve people everyday in giant pots, and which, for the past two-and-a-half years, has scraped by with only one large burner on their stove. Hurrah!

Here are some drawings of the kneading process for the bread zine: made from photoreference pictures taken by Andrew P. It’s close to being done, now, with about 12 hours to go…

The bread zine is definitely in rough-draft form, even as I’m about to print up a bunch of copies and hand them out at the zine swap. It needs to be tested out by some people other than me; I really want feedback on the instructions and design, if they are clear and legible, and if the recipe works in other kitchens! So there will be a further, more finished edition after this one. I also have the feeling that the text and images from the zine are going to become part of my poster for the Sustainable Poster Show that Meredith Stern is organizing in Providence this winter. We’ll see…!

distraction? or project?

August 3, 2008 at 3:32 am

Well, the New Urban Arts zine swap is approaching, and I sideswiped myself into working on a zine about how to make bread. So I’ve been doing that for the last little while. I’ve never laid out a document consisting mainly of blocks of text before, so I’ve been constantly referring to Robert Bringhurst‘s Elements of Typographic Style, which Andrew lent me a while ago. It’s great — if I’d gone to school for graphic design I probably would have found out about it years ago — but I am delighted now to discover the many opportunities for distraction and nerding-out that exist within its covers…

I’ve been spending a lot of time at the computer, which is all right, but I am pretty ready to go back to actually drawing. The bread zine is going to be photocopied on good paper, possibly with a screenprint of some kind on the cover: 24 small pages of just one recipe for delicious homemade bread, that you can vary and adjust to your own taste, usable even by someone who’s never baked anything before. If you want a copy, let me know!

Additionally, I got a large fan, making summer a little sweeter:

(which happens to be the same model fan that inspired this project… hmm, I just realized I never put up any images of how that turned out…)

. . . Andrew brought me a giant jar of the burdock-root kimchi we started earlier in the spring. He and I made some more drawings, including, just yesterday, this one:

(a detail)

. . . and, I picked hundreds of green beans from my garden and made dilly beans, about which I can only say, home canning, though complicated, is easier than it looks, try it, try it, try it!

geographical expansion news: If you’re in or around Portland, Maine, you can now go look at and caress some of my posters and postcards at Eli Phant, a ‘handmade stuff store’ run by old friends, that just opened on the eastern end of Congress St!

I’ve been reading Lilah’s blog

…and I’ve been really psyched about Mickey’s comics. All right!

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