Archives for category: Self-publishing


Now Devil started sobbing too. It seems they are all pretty exhausted. I have 64 of these puppets. I don’t even want to think about what happens when they all start! Can someone please pledge. Otherwise I might drown in puppet tears :).

mouse sniffling

Mouse and L’Artiste have been working hard over the last two weeks to get the crowdfunding campaign together. They made one film, which was far too long and they also realised it looked like they are promoting a cooking show. No, they really wanted to entice people to support their art and their cookbook – the book they’ve spent every free minute on and laboured over for the last six months. They decided to reshoot. They really wanted to get it right. Anyway, they finally got the campaign up. Last weekend Mouse was busy sending out emails telling every man and his dog that the campaign is finally up and running, and then…. nothing!

This morning I found Mouse sitting in a corner of the art cupboard, crying her little heart out. “Nobody wants the book” she said between sobs. “Absolutely nobody! It’s not that they have to give us money for nothing, they’ll get a full-colour book with over 100 pages for it!”

“Give it time” said L’Artiste with a brave face, though I thought I saw the glint of a tear in his eye as well.

pledge me

Hurrah, I have done it. The crowdfunding campaign for the Artist’s survival cookbook is finally up and running. If you pledge, you basically pre-order the book but you also can pledge for a Lil’Dede, or the real thing, a Dede! They are not often for sale. Have a look, have a heart, and pledge. :) And if you know someone who might be interested in the book, share! Get the word out! The Dedes and I are grateful for all your support.



Last weekend I have been working on a film for my crowdfunding campaign. Now that it is finished, I have second thoughts and won’t be using it for it’s intended purpose. When I was riding the bus this morning, I had a more suitable idea. Guess I will be making another film next weekend.

But since I’ve made this one, I might as well show it :)

push push and little ele

The recipes are all done. The Artist’s Survival cookbook is at the layout stage. Hang on, a dear Dede-follower might think, wasn’t the book at the layout stage a month ago? How can it take so long? Yeah, well, I’ve got my tax bill! It is not much, but it depends on the reference point. If you have nothing, not much is too much. Pretty sure plenty of readers can empathise with me here :) It is the equivalent to going to jail in Monopoly: don’t pass GO on your way. Well, not quite. Looking back on last year I have moved substantially, but I am not where I want to be. I moved a little sideways. I have a part-time teaching job that takes up more time than it is supposed to. I am teaching young creatives, and I thoroughly enjoy the contact with the students and their development. Sadly, a clash in teaching philosophies with a colleague results in a lot of friction and ultimately the job takes up more head space than it should. The Dedes suffer.

The tax bill made me do a reality check! No more fluffing around. I have to finish the book and get it out. It will happen, but to speed up the process I will I need a little cash. This will go towards roping in some professionals that can do jobs I can’t do. I would also like to have a small print run of hard cover books.

Therefore I have finally decided to go ahead with a crowd funding campaign. This is not much more than pre-selling the books and it gives me an indication whether people are prepared to buy it. Of course, like any artist I have my doubts at times. And of course I know some of you really enjoy the puppets and the idea. A particularly big THANK YOU goes to Tony and Jürgen for their invaluable support throughout the entire process.

Yesterday I started to make a new flash drama film to support the upcoming campaign. As part of the campaign I will also offer four real Dedes as an incentive for a donation. As you may know, the Dedes are usually not for sale. Sometimes the lil’ Dedes are available. The real Dedes are bigger (between 12 and 15cm) and have a label on their neck to identify them as Dedes. They are the ones that go on exhibitions and star in stop motion films. The lil’Dedes are just puppets that try to be Dedes. They are smaller. You can see the difference in the photo. And while they are still handcrafted I don’t record where they go. The little elephant will go on sale at the Art in Action event at the Michael Park School (Steiner School) in Auckland on the 13 June, where I hold a puppet making and film making workshop.

So far I have sold four of the Dedes (my heart ached each time). I really don’t want to let them go. Two of the buyers allowed their puppets to stay with me. Push Push the elephant is one of them, Harvey the rabbit is the other. Ultimately the puppets become more valuable the more often they show up in films.  One, Lap Dog has gone to a collector I don’t know personally and Punch too aka Han de Vere has gone to a person I didn’t know, but know now. (Message for HanTop Dog is still waiting to join you! He is still muzzled, sitting in the corner.)

Still, the campaign might not work, as I am not very well connected. I work with puppets and reflect, I am not out there selling myself.  Another (not uncommon) trait a lot of people can empathise with :). However, the book will go ahead, one way or another. It is just a question of how and when. I have finally set a deadline. I will have it done and dusted in July! (this year).  And as I always say to my students. A deadline is a deadline, no expemptions!

artist survival cookbook cover

Milky Bar Devil looked so cute with his hamburger bun the other day, that the Dedes decided they are making him the poster boy for the cover and L’Artiste played around with the arrangement today. Having arrived at this stage, the little light at the end of the tunnel is definitely in sight. I have three more recipes to add, and a couple other changes, the proof-reader is lined-up too…. So can’t be too long now.

In case you haven’t had dinner yet, here is a picture of the finished hamburger.




hamburger bun

How could we have missed this. All those flour and water recipes and no hamburger buns. We have pizza and pasta and some more obscure things, but no hamburger buns. Mouse and Devil’s Advocate are currently editing the book, while L’Artiste does the layout. It is strange how you often only see inconsistencies once everything is formatted. Anyway, last night they realised they have no hamburger buns. Milky Bar Devil laughed as this is what he wanted to contribute. “Why didn’t you say so?” Mouse asked a bit annoyed. “Ah well, I thought that everything has to be crunchy, the buns, the pizza base, the grissini… I thought you aren’t interested in a soft bun.” He gave Mouse a big elfish smile and it was immediately clear why he prefers the soft buns. He has a big gap in his teeth.

“No, you got the wrong impression there” said Mouse. “We always point out that tastes are different. Some people like a soft pizza base, others a crunchy one. It’s simply that I like it crunchy, but for the completeness of the book we definitely need hamburger buns. So would you please give me your recipe!”

Milky Bar Devil handed over his piece of paper and Mouse was surprised how quick they could be made. Despite it being a yeast dough, they only need to rise once. She shook her head in disbelieve. “Does this really work?” she asked. “Yes,” Milky Bar Devil said and grabbed the recipe back. “Give me half an hour and I’ll quickly throw them together for you.”


3 cups of flour, 2 teaspoons of dry yeast, 1 teaspoon of sugar, 1 cup of lukewarm water. 6 tablespoons of vegetable oil, 1 egg, 1/2 teaspoon of salt.

Baking paper or silicon mat for the tray.


Put flour in a bowl and make a well in the middle. Pour in water and add the yeast and sugar and sprinkle a little of the flour over the water (the sugar and flour will help the yeast to become active). Let stand for 10 minutes until the yeast is foamy.

Preheat the oven to 2200C

In a separate bowl whisk together egg, salt and oil with a fork. Then add the yeast and flour. Work everything into a soft dough and knead for about 5 minutes until it is smooth and elastic. To start with the dough is very sticky and will want to stick to the work surface and your hands. Do not add more flour, just knead until it is an elastic, non-sticky dough. Divide into 8 balls and place on tray lined with a silicon mat or baking paper. Flatten the balls lightly to form a disc.

Cover with a clean tea towel and let rest for at least 10 minutes or until the oven is heated to the right temperature.

Bake for 15 minutes or until golden brown. Let cool on a wire rack.



This is a really busy weekend for the Dedes. They all lined up in the studio to get their pictures taken for the Artist’s Survival Cookbook. For a while they’ve been discussing with L’Artiste how to do the imagery in the book. The pics on the blog were only quick snapshots taken on the day when their recipe was baked. Mouse baulked at the idea of re-making everything just to get better shots. She is really annoyed that nobody listened to her when she said, “Do it once and do it right!” Why should she spend more time now, she asked, when she can use her time so much better for the design of the book.

“But don’t you want to have the best possible book?” asked Detail.

“Leave her alone” said Devil. “I can understand, she’s the one who does all the work! There is always a way around it.”

In the end they decided to take new pictures in the studio and present the existing ones as selfies. They asked Mouse to quickly mock a page up to show everyone. She acted coyly at first, as she doesn’t want to show work in progress. She has a long list of things she still has to solve. But the others were adament that the readers need to know they are still working on the book. In the end she succumbed.


mouse rob bechamel

Usually Rob D Light waits until everybody has left the kitchen before he sneaks in and makes his meals. Like he did last night. He had “found” this huge marrow in the garden and wanted to cook it up. Mouse was still sitting in the dining room leafing through the recipes when she heard the pots and pans being handled in the kitchen, and the fridge door being opened and closed.

“What are you doing?” she asked Rob D Light who got a big fright. “Um, I am making myself a meal.” Rob is very shy as he has to deal with a lot of prejudice. Mouse saw the marrow on the cutting board. “Are you just frying this in oil?” she asked curiously.

“No, I am making a bechamel sauce with it today,” answered Rob. “Oh dear.” Mouse looked as if she had been hit by lightning. Rob was delighted that someone was interested in his work and thought Mouse was impressed with his cooking skills. “It is not that difficult” he said proudly. “No, I know,” said Mouse. “I just realised this is another recipe we don’t have in our collection yet. And it is so versatile.” They both agreed the name bechamel sounds magic, but in effect it is the most basic white sauce you can make.

“Once you know how to make this sauce, you can add all sorts of things: spices or cheese or capers or anchovies. You can even turn it into soup, if you add more water.”

“Yes,” said Mouse excitedly. “When I make Lasagne, I make this sauce and add a cup of cheese.”

“You really have to add some sort of flavour” said Rob. “On it’s own it is pretty bland. But it is good starting point. Today I am adding a bit of cheese as well and will pour it over the chopped marrow then bake it in the oven for 35 minutes”

Mouse asked Rob to give her a quick run-down on how he makes his sauce. He prefers milk when he uses it with vegetables, but you also can use the water you boiled your vegetables in, for example asparagus, or just plain water.

“What about the proportions of butter to flour?” asked Mouse. “Personally, I use equal amounts.”

“It’s not hard and fast, but you can use up to 3 parts flour to 2 parts butter. And with the liquid, you just add as much as you need for your desired texture.”


1 tablespoon of butter, 1.5 tablespoons of flour, 1 cup of water or milk (nutmeg, pepper optional).


This sauce requires constant stirring!

Over a medium heat melt the butter in a saucepan. With a wooden spoon stir the flour into the melted butter until it turns into a well combined paste. Cook ans stir until it bubbles slightly, but make sure it doesn’t turn brown. Add the milk, a quarter cup at a time, and stir until it is well mixed into the paste without lumps before you add the next portion. When all the milk has been added, bring to a boil and it will thicken nicely. Add nutmeg and pepper to taste, lower the heat and cook for two or three minutes longer. If you want to make a cheese sauce, add half a cup of grated cheese at this point. It is done, when the cheese is melted.

Note: If you want to flavour the bechamel sauce, add the flavours of your choice after the sauce has thickened.

mouse devil reading book

“We won’t get 101 recipes” said Mouse again and looked at her list. “I think we have twenty-five or so.”

“There are still a few to come” said Witch. “I definitely want to do my teff custard”. Witch is the one that tries all sort of different flours. Teff is her favourite. It is an Ethiopian highland grain and is gluten-free, but has the stickiness of gluten. It is often used in gluten-free flour mixes, but it is hard to come by on its own and very expensive. For this reason, Mouse, who is a frugal Dede,  doesn’t want to include anything with teff flour in the book.

“But we have to talk about different flours in the book” insisted Witch. “And, okay, I have already published the teff custard on October 2013. I’ll just link to it here.”

“I think it is time to discuss how we make the book. We have enough material. Quality is better than quantity and our readers might be getting sick of all these flour and water recipes” continued Mouse.

Harvey, the rabbit, came into the room and said “but I want to make a yeast plait that you eat at Easter”. “And I want to make profiterole” chimed in Loudmouth, the chicken. “We haven’t even made any dumplings except for the bread dumplings” called someone from the back. “There are still more recipes to come!”

“Do we need to publish them all on the blog?” asked Mouse. “I am starting to worry about how we design the book. I have to get on with the editing. Do we just collate all the stories we have here, or what?” Mouse looked around for a response. She is not confident enough to make such far-reaching decisions on her own.

No answers were forthcoming so Devil, who has no problem with decision-making, stepped in. “Personally, I think the Dedes should be in the book, but we might rewrite the story a little to make it smoother. At the moment we just have blog posts. This doesn’t make a book!” He commended Mouse for all her valuable input into the recipes and how she explained what to watch out for, but he thinks it needs to be streamlined. The others agreed. Detail piped up and said “But if we don’t have 101 recipes the title doesn’t work anymore. Didn’t we want to call the book The Artist’s survival cookbook or 101 recipes with flour and water?”

“I noticed that too” said Philosopher. “What do you think about the title The Artist’s survival cookbook or how to make a crust

“We could also call it The Artist’s survival cookbook or living on the breadline” said L’Artiste who knows a thing or two about that.

“See?” Mouse was happy that the discussion finally started. “There are so many decisions to make. The title, and then the question, do we have to photograph everything again? How do we want to design the book? How are we going to publish it?”

“Do you really think our readers are interested in all this?” asked Philosopher. “Shouldn’t we discuss all this amongst ourselves?”