Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Art Directing and Hand Modeling

My day job is a graphic designer/marketing coordinator for a company that makes small kitchen appliances.  My favorite days at work are days when I art direct photo shoots and food styling.

First I prepare days ahead of time by looking through Williams Sonoma Catalogs, Wegmans Magazine, Food Network and anything else I can find for inspiration.  I collect photos to fit the theme of the current project, get ideas for food items, and how to prepare the food so it looks like food art.  The day before or day of the shoot I head over to Wegmans, voted the best grocery store in the United States, armed with the company charge card and my list of food items and supplies. 

Once I gather my supplies I start the prep work.  For the rotisserie photo above I cooked the chicken in the rotisserie the night before, so it looked fabulous the next day.  After I have the supplies and completed prep work I go over to Dave Wahl's (photographer) studio.  I work on some prep work for the day of the shoot like removing dust from the unit we're going to shoot, prepare the food, add the final touches.  I discuss the kind of shots I have in mind for the day with the photographer and I continue prepping. Most of the shoot involves a lot of cleaning...i know i know...not so glamorous, but I really enjoy it!

It's really interesting learning the behind the scenes tricks when photographing food.  For instance sometimes we use fake ice, ice cream, or steaks in shoots.  The above food is all real though.  Also, note my career in hand modeling above.  Yes, it's my hand.  Hand modeling isn't as easy as it looks.  You must keep your hand very steady which can be tricky when you're holding something heavy.

After the shoots is finished it's time to clean, clean, clean, then I pack things up.  Overall these are my favorite days because it's so neat to be in a photography studio and be physically involved in the process.  I think of all the cool ads, and giftboxes that I'll make that will be on QVC, in Target, Wegmans, Bed Bath & Beyond, Kohls, and Big Lots.  I love being a part of it.

Cancer Cell Lamps

For my BFA senior thesis at the University at Buffalo in 2006 I made 16 cancer cell lamps which were made of handmade paper, wax, and silk screened images.  The lamps were on display at the Buffalo Central Terminal in a dark staircase - allowing the lamps to illuminate.  The lamps are memorial lamps to victims of cancer - people living with cancer, survivors, or those who have died.  Cancer is such a taboo word in our society and it touches every family in some way.  I wanted to visually represent it in a non threatening way.  Through my research I learned there are so many causes of cancer: obesity, sunlight, heredity, smoking, and the list goes on...There's never one cause.  The lamps can also act like voodoo lamps having them close to you as a way to ward off cancer.  $70 each plus shipping

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Socks and Gaitors! Oh my!

Socks, gauntlets, leg wear have been such a trend this year.  I just discovered Scrunchie Socks by DimensionalVision and they're absolutely adorable.  I can totally see a fashion savy woman living in a big city wearing these on the weekend.  The designer, Dee Dee, is from Philadelphia, PA and all her items are handmade.  Her socks are around $19 dollars.
 The picture above is of Kristen Wright wearing the rice rafferty gaitors and ultra feminine warrior silk wrap dress.  And of course everything was hand dyed.

Monday, June 28, 2010

It Runs in the Family

There's something so fascinating and comforting about maps.  Sometimes I catch myself clicking and staring at maps on google maps or mapquest for hours.  I enjoy looking at the maps while planning trips or just the beauty of their designs.  So, it wasn't really a surprise when we discovered a distant relative who is an art critic for the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review and gallery owner of a shop which specializes in vintage maps.

Last year was my first visit to Shaw Galleries and it was such a pleasant surprise.  The gallery was full of maps ranging from the city of Pittsburgh, state of Pennsylvania maps to maps of the United States.  One of my favorite maps was a map from the early settler days showing lots of towns in the Northeast, very little in central US, and California was an island!  Shaw Galleries now carries artworks by local artists as well as some prints by world renowned artists.  You may also contact Kurt for an appraisal.  Shaw Galleries is located in Pittsburgh, PA downtown in the theater district.  Check it out here:

Friday, June 25, 2010

We're the Real Gilmore Girls

We're the rice rafferty girls - aka the real Gilmore Girls. We're not the typical mother/daughter we even share the same names. My middle name is my mothers maiden name hence we share the names rice & rafferty. Since neither of us have a sister, we're best friends and actually enjoy hanging out together (i thought this was normal ).  While each of has our own friends we share; inside jokes, love watching foreign and old movies together, attend concerts, cook, garden, work on our designs, and doing our own photo shoots.

We share cross generational information.  Mom took me to see Cyndi Lauper, Leon Russell & Mikhail Baryshnikov. Last week I took my mom to an Ingrid Michaelson concert to meet up with my friends and tonight we're going to see Rusted Root (to support our Pittsburgh roots, go pittsburgh)!

We even went to colleges together (sort of).  When I was looking at art colleges my mom decided she had unfinished business.  The same day I started at University at Buffalo, my mom entered classes at Buffalo State College (yay Cindi Sherman). We joked that day from Romey and Michele's High School Reunion, " If this doesn't work out, you want to fold scarves?" It actually worked out really well because we would share information, critiqued each others work, and share supplies.  My university education was more conceptual and her college program was stronger with craft and technique.  Together we were able to fill in the gaps everyone finds in their education.  This is when our serious art camp began. 

My silk screening class projects were heavily influenced by my mother's fiber background.  While the professor had all of his students printing on paper, I was off silk screening on t-shirts, up cycled denim skirts and even created fabric made into a bras to ward off breast cancer. My mother taught me to make handmade paper which I silk screened my designs then built into lamps for my Senior BFA Thesis Project.  Graphic design became more interesting when I combined fiber elements - embroidery in books, binding handmade books, and scanning in interesting textures.

After graduation I began working graphic design jobs while my mother taught classes for her college program.  Working full time jobs left less time to make handmade items at first, but I quickly learned I'm a maker and it makes me happy.  My mother kept designing her devore scarves, dyeing them, and burning out the designs.  I would assist her with it the process and soon we began a partnership that keeps building.  I design the business cards, labels, websites, work on trend research, and the jewelry. She keeps making new garments, statement necklaces and devore scarves.

Always hungry for knowledge, mother moved to Savannah to attend Savannah College of Art and Design masters fiber program while I stayed in Buffalo working as a designer.  We were miserable apart.  I kept researching about textile and accessory businesses while she was gathering information @ SCAD.  Last June she returned home.  Full of ideas and  armed with more knowledge we started working on more projects together and that is how rice rafferty was born.  We specialize in making one of a kind accessories items; statement necklaces, devore scarves, silk scarves, copper jewelry, hair accessories, aprons and tutus.  Visit our website to learn more about us and see our designs!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Mural Painting Project Downtown Buffalo

As a new college graduate in 2006, aware of the brain drain that happens each year in May, I was anxious to contribute to the community of Buffalo, NY while I interviewed for a full time position.  Volunteering to gather and head a design team of local artist to create a mural painting in downtown Buffalo seemed like a perfect place to begin. After presenting a few of my design ideas to, the facility manager at the time, Mary Battey HSBC selected my Aquatic theme mural. Gathering my troupes was easy.  Sharing my enthusiasm and vision a team of artists offered to work on the project with me: Carol Ann Rice Rafferty, Crystal Kisloski, Greg Sobczak, Matt Cruz, and Josh Brown.  To complete the project it took us two months since we all worked full time during the week and were only available weekends.  We painted a mural on two sides of a covered outdoor walkway and painted collars and ties on bollards to resemble business men.

During my initial visit with Mary Battey discussing the conception of a mural to embellish the HSBC Building pedestrian walkway, I was inspired by the view of the waterfront from her office.  Since doing a little research I knew; "The City of Buffalo received its name from the creek that flows through it. One holds that the name is an anglicized form of the French name Beau Fleuve (beautiful river).",_New_York
The name of the mural is "Beau Buffalo." The concept of the mural obviously deals with water and aquatic life.  I selected this concept for multiple reasons.  The first being, Buffalo has the distinct advantage of being positioned on Lake Erie, one of the five Great Lakes.  With increasing talk of global warming, having fresh water makes Buffalo a prime real estate location.  Secondly, since my family moved here from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, ten years ago, the waterfront development has been a hot political topic. We have enjoyed the success of waterfront developments in many cities such as Baltimore, Boston, Chicago, Pittsburgh, and San Francisco.  We look forward to the city of Buffalo taking advantage of its natural resource soon.

A third reason is, we are aware of a successful daycare program available to employees at the HSBC Building.  We felt that the aquatic environment was something that would be enjoyable to both adults and children.  The enclosed environment of the glass covered pedestrian walkway has the sensibility of walking through a large aquarium.  Finally, the concept of water and fish in this mural denotes motion.  The cave serves as a transitional element from the cavernous parking facility to the work environment.  It is our hope that the fantasy created in our aquatic scene provides a sense of peace and tranquility, a way to cleanse the spirit from the workday stress, for people who enter this space.
The project taught me about being a leader, team work - how to encourage and direct your team, public art - making art accessible to the general public, presentation skills, and time management. Working on a real world project from initial ideas to the finished piece was very helpful as a designer.  It taught me to focus on the needs of the target audience and client.  The mural is still there today, 4 years later, and it makes all of the artists who volunteered their time happy to see it still looks great today.  The next time you attend an event downtown take a walk to the pedestrian pathway above Washington Street and between the parking garage and the HSBC Plaza to see our work.

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

The Rice Rafferty Story

We are mother and daughter indie designers.  We are a cottage industry business.  Our style is nouveaux antique - new items that are meant to resemble treasures you may find in your grandmother's attic.  We formed from the dissatisfaction with inexpensive, commercial items that don't last.  We create one of a kind accessories made from our own hand dyed fabric and upcycled materials.  No two pieces are alike, but we can try to make items similar if you request more than one.  Our items are meant to last so you can have treasures to pass down to your family members.  We make bib/statement necklaces, devore scarves, hair accessories, and tulle accessories.  We thrive on experimentation and unconventional ways of making things.  Our line is continually blossoming and new items are posted to our website regularly so check back soon.

The above bib/statment necklace is made from upcycled silk, upcycled jewelry, and braided silk straps  $95

Friday, June 18, 2010

"Amsterdam" by Peter Bjorn And John

Here's a song to help you relax on this beautiful weekend.

"Amsterdam" by Peter Bjorn And John

Tips on Social Networking

I've been social networking for years through AOL profiles, AOL instant messenger away statuses, myspace, facebook status updates, and now twitter.  Over the years you see a lot of information people share - some good, some bad.  Here are a few tips for things to leave out of your status updates:

- do not write about your children puking
- do not write when you're having a down day
- don't complain about people (the energy you put out in the world comes back to you)
- don't write about your stomach feeling sick
- don't complain about it being Monday. Inspire your readers!

Yes, sometimes we have bad days and it may cross your mind to share it on facebook, but is that really going to help?  Always try to put a positive spin on things.  Positivity is as contagious as negativity, so why not put a tad more effort into it and try to cheer someone up?

Thursday, June 17, 2010

I Scream, You Scream, We All Scream For Ice Cream

My grandfather used to say that all the time and I think of him every time I have ice cream!

Recently I discovered a new cool place to enjoy this delicious treat - Parker Hertel Sweet Shop.  The shop is at the corner of Hertel and Parker in Buffalo, NY.  The shop is painted with lime green paint and decorated quite beautifully with wooden details.  There's a large bar area which brings you back to the nostalgia of the 1950s soda shop with a wall of treats!  You can sit on bar stools at the bar or head outside to some comfy chairs on the patio.  Go here for a fun date after a movie this summer!

Parker Hertel Sweet Shop
1862 Hertel Avenue
(on Parker Ave.)

Ice Cream, Candy, Baked Goods, Coffee, Tea, Chai, Espresso, Cappuccino, Latte, Hot Chocolate, Birthday Parties, Meetings

F 2p-10p; SA 7a-10p; SU 7p-8p

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Honey Bee Chocolate Cake

Looking for a special sweet treat to make for your child or husband this year?  In the past I've made ice cream cakes, but this year I wanted to make something different.  I was reading through different cake recipes on and found the Honey Bee Chocolate Cake recipe by Nigella.  I knew the marzipan bee decorations would take awhile so I decided to buy box brownie mix, bake it up then coat it with the special honey chocolate frosting and marzipan bee decorations.

The cake was a big hit and it was absolutely delicious!  I made the bees by rolling out almond paste, dyeing it with yellow food coloring, making them into bee shaped ovals, then i painted stripes and eyes on them with chocolate frosting and added sliced almonds as wings.

Below is Nigella Lawson's recipe:



  • 4 ounces semisweet chocolate, broken into pieces
  • 1 1/3 cups soft light brown sugar
  • 2 sticks soft butter
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon bicarbonate soda (baking soda)
  • 1 tablespoon cocoa
  • 1 cup boiling water

Sticky Honey Glaze:

  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 6 ounces semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons confectioners' sugar


  • 1 ounce yellow marzipan
  • 12 flaked almonds
  • Special equipment: 9-inch springform tin


Take whatever you need out of the refrigerator so that all ingredients can come to room temperature, and while that's happening, melt the chocolate from the cake part of the ingredients list in a good-sized bowl, either in the microwave or suspended over a pan of simmering water. Set aside to cool slightly.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F, and butter and line a 9-inch springform tin.

Beat together the sugar and soft butter until airy and creamy, and then add the honey.
Add 1 of the eggs, beating it in with a tablespoon of the flour, and then the other egg with another tablespoon of flour. Fold in the melted chocolate, and then the rest of the flour and baking soda. Add the cocoa pushed through a tea strainer to ensure you have no lumps, and last of all, beat in the boiling water. Mix everything well to make a smooth batter and pour into the prepared tin. Cook for up to 1 1/2 hours, though check the cake after 45 minutes and if it is getting too dark, cover the top lightly with aluminium foil and keep checking every 15 minutes.Let the cake cool completely in the tin on a rack.

To make the glaze, bring the water and honey to a boil in a saucepan, then turn off the heat and add the finely chopped chocolate, swirling it around to melt in the hot liquid. Leave it for a few minutes, then whisk together. Add the sugar through a sieve and whisk again until smooth.

Choose your plate or stand, and cut out 4 strips of baking paper and form a square outline on the plate. This is so that when you sit the cake on and ice it, the icing will not run out all over the plate. Unclip the tin and set the thoroughly cooled cake on the prepared plate. Pour the glaze over the cold honey bee cake; it might dribble a bit down the edges, but don't worry too much about that. The glaze stays tacky for ages (this is what gives it its lovely melting gooiness) so ice in time for the glaze to harden a little, say at least an hour before you want to serve it. Keep the pan of glaze, (don't wash it up), as you will need it to make the stripes on the bees.

Divide the marzipan into 6 even pieces and shape them into fat, sausage-like bees' bodies, slightly tapered at the ends. Using a wooden skewer, paint stripes with the sticky honey glaze left in the pan from icing the cake. About 3 stripes look best, and then very carefully attach the flaked almonds at an angle to make the bees' wings, 2 on each one. They might snap as you dig them into the marzipan bodies, so have some spare. I'm afraid to admit, I also like to give them eyes by dipping the point of the skewer in the glaze and thence on the bees: they look more loveable with an expression, which is somehow what the eyes give them, but then this is where the Disney effect comes in. If a more imperial dignity is required, forgo the dotting of the eyes and present this as your Napoleonic Chocolate Cake.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Templeton Landing is Divine

Recently I went to Shanghai Red's Restaurant, but sadly Shanghai is no longer in Buffalo, NY.  The good news is it's now Templeton Landing  It was their opening night and the place is gorgeous.  Templeton Landing offers contemporary American cuisine. We were greeted by Specialty Restaurants Corp. director of training, William Tallichet.  They offer everything from seafood dishes and salads to ribs, and steaks.  The same water fountain and fireplace are outside to greet you.  The color scheme is blue - makes you feel like you're far away on a cruise ship.  I ordered the crab cake appetizer and Veal Oskar as the entree.  It was delicous!  Each plate is a piece of art created by Executive Chef Norman Nichols, formerly executive chef of Seneca Niagara Casino, Harrah's Entertainment and Carnival Cruise Lines.  From the window, I looked onto the large patio next to the water.  There were at least eight fire pits!  Templeton Landing is the only place I can think of in downtown Buffalo with fire pits!  There's something so calming and beautiful about fire by the waterfront.  They built a brand new bar too - very large!  This is the hang out of the summer.  Go grab a cocktail and appetizer after work, sit back and relax, enjoy the sunset over the water!  Happy Dining!

 Or try some grilling at home with a Martha Stewart cookbook!
Everyday Food Magazine From the Kitchens of Martha Stewart Living July/August 2003 (Issue #4) - Special Summer Grilling Issue

Sunday, June 13, 2010

We Love Tulle

The above are some pics of me wearing our rice rafferty tulle accessories with fiber optic elements.  Pictured from top to bottom - Trapeze Dress/Tutu (wear as a dress or tutu), Short Tutu, Detachable Tulle Accessory, Tulle Bridal Veil, and Tulle Gauntlet.  All pieces have hand dyed silk elements embedded in the tool.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Every Girl Needs a Tutu

When I was a little girl you couldn't get me out of my tutu.  I remember twirling and dancing around the house.  I quit my dance lessons (sorry mom), but that didn't stop me from dressing up and dancing free style.  I felt so elegant and grown up.  The revival of the 80s dance wear as street wear is very exciting to me.  

The above picture is showing our Ultra Feminine Warrior tutu, made from layers of white tulle embedded with strands of silk and upcycled silk flowers with bead stitching and fiber optic lights. $80
When I was in college my art building was shared with the dancer/theater majors so I was heavily influenced by exposure to dancer clothing.  Even though my hands were full of art books, sketch pads, and paint brushes I'd wear leg warmers and leggings and my hair up in a messy bun several days a week.  Gee!  No wonder my favorite painters were Renoir and James Tissot!  I'm not a dancer, but drawing/painting ballerinas and wearing dancer clothing made me feel like one.  Wearing dancer clothes also puts me in the mood to work out, stretch, maybe do a little ballet workout (check out the NYC Ballet Workout - really great for your posture and makes you feel very graceful).

Wear the tutu with black leotard or leggings and a tank top if you plan on dancing. 

If you're a tad more daring with fashion, like Carrie Bradshaw, pair the tutu with a short skirt and blouse/tank (maybe a blazer if it's chilly) with a few strands of pearls and stiletto heals. 

Pair it with our Ultra Feminine Warrior silk one shoulder turquoise tunic and bib or statement necklace.

Simply flip a switch and turn on the fiber optic lights if you plan on going dancing!  

My favorite dance movie is Center Stage (Special Edition)

I seriously can't get enough of this movie.  I've watched it at least a hundred times.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Away We Go

Yesterday I had dinner with my friend Crystal, a fellow graphic designer, who just got back from Europe.  She recently traveled to Dagenham, UK.  This was her first time traveling ALONE and outside North America, so I was very proud of her.

She also ventured to Scotland UK, Wales UK, London Uk and Salisbury UK. I enjoyed hearing all about her adventure.  She was telling me how all the stores you can find here in a US cities are there as well.  She mentioned H&M and I said oh yes we have that here.  She was searching endlessly trying to find unique gifts for her friends, but it was all Made in China and generic.  Crystal ended up bringing home some beautiful seashells for her family.  With the internet we have really become so connected as a society, yet we lose some of our individuality.  She imagined the UK to be different somehow...maybe not so modern?  She absolutely loved it though!  If I was there I would have loved to check out some textile museums or studios!  Crystal said the trip made her appreciate home more.  There's no place like home, but she's ready for more traveling in the future!  :)

Have you seen the movie Away We Go??!?  A young couple is on a quest to find a place to move, to call home, and start their family.  They travel to Wisconsin, Montreal, Miami and Arizona visiting friends and checking out different lives.  Aren't we all on this journey trying to find a place where we fit in this world?  Have you found that place?  Where is it?

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Now YOU can make rice rafferty accessories!

Whenever I show friends our rice rafferty accessories they are always curious how we make things.  I've decided to compile some tutorials showing how to make some of our designs.  I'm making a bib necklace instruction manual right now.  Above is a photo of a bib necklace I found on the internet.  Our instructions will help guide you, but also encourage experimentation.

Are there any items you would like to try making on your own?  Go to to see more of our accessories.

We really support being green - collect items from estate sales, garage sales, flea markets so you can incorporate these fun finds into your designs.  We love to up cycle items! 

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Is that YOU wearing RICE RAFFERTY?

Here's a photo of one of our happy customers wearing a rice rafferty up cycled 2010 silk floral headband.  When we saw this photo our hearts just melted.   This is why we do what we do.  Seeing this photo makes all our hard work worth it!  Come visit our new site to check out all our products (aprons, accessories, apparel) and our personal websites!