Monthly Archives: March 2010

Pulling threads

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While scouring the web for fabulous finds for the Pattern Pulp weekly roundup, I came across some amazing works by husband and wife designers Sally and Peter Nencini. I included them, but still found myself particularly smitten with a few certain pieces of work. Such as the chair above, a truly collaborative effort: the poem is written by their daughter, Sadie (at age 8), Peter designed the layout and design of the words, and Sally hand-embroidered the type onto a vintage hemp sack. I really love everything about it. The poem, the lively design and layout of the words, the rough elegance of the hemp. Just the fact that a poem was embroidered onto a piece of furniture makes my heart beat. The way it comes to life makes it sing. And, hey! They’ve done more collaborative furniture. All of which I think are awesome.

The set of chairs on the left are entitled Calligraphic, with a motif that reads horizontally and represents “A funny amalgam of not-so-esoteric and long-loved and digested visual matter feeding the language used. The consistent is something of a space between images and words.” (For more clues to the meaning of the motifs click here.) The stool on the right was commissioned with the intention of it being a place for one to sit whilst taking off or putting on one’s shoes. The Nencini’s used text from Gaston Bachelard’s The Poetics of Space, and created a design that is reminiscent of the combined oddity of Alice when she grows so large her legs poke out the windows and of Struwwelpeter illustrations. (For more background and info about the process click here, and here.)

I do quite enjoy all of these works and others done by the couple, both independently and together. It’s a lot of exploring old crafts with a new eye and giving them new life and language.

So, yes, with these wonderful and imaginative functional works of art in mind, I fell next upon Keisuke Fujiwara‘s “Spool 214 Thool Chair, which pays homage to iconic Thonet chair.

The chair is wrapped painstakingly by hand in 12 different colors of thread to achieve the “fire” and “ice” color schemes. I was immediately amused by the comparison of the processes of the Nencini’s work and Fujiwara’s. One which updates classic furniture by embroidering new things into fabric, and other which gives a new look to an iconic chair by wrapping it in threads. I enjoy the gradation of colors and the softness that the layers of thread give this work. Also, I’m simply amused by the use of thread for something other than cut and dry sewing. Looking at a selection of thread in a store is almost as gleeful as looking at a wall full of paint swatches. The array of color is astounding and your mind is swept up in possibility. Fujiwara’s chairs also called to mind another project I spotted a few months ago and also always intended to use. Dominic Wilcox‘s “By a thread” walking sticks, employ a similar concept of wrapping a walking stick with spools of thread:

Of course, then I remembered what I had been saving along with Mr. Wilcox’s canes!

Voila! Mark Kaplan‘s spool of thread inspired earrings.

So there you have it. A spun tale of of thread in it’s many uses and forms. In it’s natural on a spool habitat, wound decadently around objects, and stitched in a new old school kind of way into some seriously awesome furniture.

Happy Monday to you (I know, *groan*), and get creative!

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Lost Things

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Absolutely beautiful. I kind of want to live inside this whimsical stop-motion adventure by Angela Kohler and Ithyle with Alison Sudol, singer of A Fine Frenzy, staring and providing the music. The song is “Sleepwaking”, crafted to fit the film.

If interested, here’s a little Q+A with Angela about the making of “Lost Things”

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A Third Aesthetic

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Wow. I never would have thought about mixing together African textiles with the Japanese kimono, but the result is absolutely stunning. I stumbled upon Serge Mouangue’s collection Wafrica last month, and was immediately awe-struck, first with the unexpected combination and then with how well it worked. As I was putting this together, I realized why I loved it so much: it manages to combine strength (the bold and bright African textiles) and delicate grace (the traditional kimono form) to create a wholly cohesive look. Strength and grace. Two contrasts united in women. I remembered this quote:

“Courage is not the towering oak that sees storms come and go; it is the fragile blossom that opens in the snow.” – Alice MacKenzie Swaim

Ah, yes!

The rest in Serge’s own words, from this lovely article:

“They may appear different on the surface but they do share some cultural similarities. Both societies are very tribal and have a respect for hierarchy and an appreciation of the power of silence.”

“And then there are the differences. In Japan there is no improvisation. Here, improvisation can mean trouble, shame, difficulties. But in Africa, it means life, renewal, health and spirit.”

“The kimono is an icon of Japan. I’m fascinated by the cut and the attitude and poise it creates among women when they wear them. Putting on a kimono is an immensely complex process. It is like a building, with layer after layer. But the complexity disappears when it is put together, and the end result is pure beauty and timelessness.”

“African women are supposed to show their bodies.The cut of their traditional babu dress may be from loose cotton, but when they move it is designed to show all their curves. In African dress, womanly lines are celebrated. In Japan, the shape is different; it is more like a tube.”

“The connection between two different worlds such as Africa and Japan may be hidden. There may be a sea that seems to separate the two places. But we are all connected. There is earth under the sea that links us all, but we can’t always see it. This is a project that tries to show that connection.”

“I am hoping to expand this to include other aspects of Japanese culture. This is just the start. It is about finding a third aesthetic. Telling a familiar story a different way. The end result? It’s about hope, and it’s about the future.”

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Eye love: Saturated Surreality

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I love magazines. I used to buy them all gleefully wily-nily, devour them, display their awesomeness on the coffee table, and then eventually they’d slowly start to form a mountain in my room/living room/somewhere. Yeah, I’m not so good at throwing them away. So. I hang out at the bookstore, and I devour them there. It saves me money and space, except for the fact that so many times I wind up taking pictures of the pages with my iPhone, and that doesn’t necessarily capture the color correctly. What I really need is a magic portable scanner. Something like if the iPad were capable of being able to scan something by placing it over the screen would be ideal. Luckily, these pictures are from New York Magazine, and those dolls put just about the whole thing online. *Warm fuzzies for them*. So, when I saw these pics this afternoon, huddled in a new spot because some people stole my usual nook(s) (grr), and felt all fluttery happy because of the magnificent colors of artist Hunt Slonem‘s amazingly huge Hell’s kitchen habitat (the Lincoln’s and bunnies are some of his signature works)((aren’t those bunnies freakin’ adorable?)) and wanted to share it’s technicolor wonderlandness I knew I could. I just love how bold and bright and saturated all of the colors are, and how the light creates variations of them. I love the collection of bunnies, how they don’t take themselves too seriously, but in their nice frames, and all of their lovely colors that all go so nicely together they just create such a nice.. look…visual texture…something.

(An aside: So. Yesterday, when I was writing about Mary Temple’s work I had an idea. And it occurred to me again when I was looking at all of Mr. Slonem’s framed art covered walls. What if someone framed their windows! Assuming you had a killer view, wouldn’t it be beautiful? Whether it was subtle and the same color as the walls, just with some particularly frame-y details, or whether it was, well, anything a real frame comes in, golden, antiqued, whathaveyou. It could be a wonderful way to draw focus to a really lovely view, or particularly awesome curtains/screens/window decorations. Yeah? Anyone? In theory at least?)

Ahem. Mr. Slonem, as it turns out, loves stuff. The title of the NY Mag article being “Living with a Thousand Best Friends,” in reference to his preferred state of clutter and all. He seems to love animal and quirk, and so I’m thinking he may like French artist Martine Roch‘s work. I’ve had her flickr stream hanging out in a browser tab coincidentally right next to the NY Mag article, and it kind of feels like I should show them together:

Martine loves animals, always had. She says that she’s been making them “talk” since childhood and onwards.

For her images she uses antique photos she’s culled from scouring flea markets and photographs she’s taken of animals herself.

I love the quirky way in which the animals are given life. It creates a sort of technicolor surreal world where anything is possible.

Kind of like the way you imagined life was when you were a kid. Animals could talk and think and behave like humans, you could be transported to other worlds through closets and secret passageways. There was so much about life you didn’t understand that it was easy to mash things together in your imagination to fill in the blanks. That feeling, that facet of curious thought seems to fade in many as you get older and become aware of the realities of the “real” world. I like that these two artists maintain that curiosity and enthusiasm. Whether creating it in art, or creating your living space to maintain and express that feeling of possibility, dreaminess, and whimsy is a place, a feeling I think we all seek to get back to every now and then.

Sometimes bizarre can be awesome.

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A little bit softer now

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Dumpling dears, would any of you care to hazard a guess as to what those little off-white rectangles are? (this is my college apartment, affectionately dubbed The Pomegranate Estate)((and if you know what belongs between those little thumbtacks, consider yourself really special)). Not sure? Think we were crazy? Here’s a little hint:

Now a little story (don’t worry, I am going somewhere with all of this): One day my roommate Bunny and I were eating breakfast, absentminded-ly switching between our barstools which looked out onto this window (it used to have panes)((that was another hint)), and the futon couch that sat directly below these windows and looked onto the kitchen, which is just to the left of the first picture, while we ate and chatted away. It was a lovely weekend day, and the sun was shining through the windows onto the wall. It made a very pretty little pattern. And one of us though aloud, “Wouldn’t it be neat to paint the shadows on the wall?” And of course, the other piped up something along the lines of a gleeful, “I was JUST thinking that same thing!” (did any one you guess it?!). Since we were both so clearly on the same page, we jumped right up, grabbed some paint and a paintbrush from our brush cup on counter and both went at capturing the sun before it went away. (This sort of little agreement is how we got into most of our shenaniganry.) We then signed it and marked it with the date. Most people could usually make the connection about what those marks were back when we had the multiple windowpanes. They’d look at the marks weirdly, then at us like we were crazy, then at the windows and back again to the wall. Oh. Ohh! And it dawned on them. I was reminded of this when I saw:

You look at this and think, oh what a pretty shadow!

Goodness, whatever is outside must be very pretty.

And maybe if you got real close to it you’d realize: it’s paint! Oui, these are all paintings by artist Mary Temple, who I spotted on The Jealous Curator last week (or so). I just love the hint of outside. The softness of the paint. It’s beautiful and quiet. And yet, fuels your imagination and creates “light” even if there are no windows.

Quiet, you see, is important. Because this morning my building’s superintendent woke my roommate and I up bright and early banging on our door and yelling about how there was too much noise last night. Which would be pretty much impossible, as it happens that the only thing that was moved around was paper. I could go on for a long (long long long) time about a lack of quiet that is not produced by any one in this apartment but you don’t want to hear me rattle on about that, and neither does my super, because he walked away. And we just stood there in silence, baffled, and nowhere near awake enough to fully comprehend what had just happened. I stumbled back into my room but could not fall asleep so busy was my mind thinking about the intricacies of quiet. Of maybe having to walk around on fluffy little cumulus clouds. Oh heavens and oh hell.

And then! Oh and then! Right when I was feeling grumpy and distraught, I realized I’d wound up on the front page of wordpress. And very suddenly my door was being banged on again (metaphorically, that is), but instead of a grouchy super (who really is usually very helpful and nice) it was all of you! Goodness, you cats and kittens just rained on in on me. And I was in my pajamas and had my hair in pigtails and kept finding myself very startled to find myself being paid so much attention. I mean, you always want attention and all, but it tends to happen when you’re not expecting it. Like when you’re donning pig-tails, like a 5-year old. Oh my. You start to feel, for a second, that maybe people can actually see through the computer into your room. It’s cool though, I like you all, you can stick around. You’re sunshine. You’re reverse (or environmental) graffiti:

Have you heard of it?

It’s “graffiti” made from cleaning.

These three pictures are from an installation done by Paul “Moose” Curtis, who originated reverse graffiti, on an overpass in San Francisco.

Beautiful isn’t it? And it kind of reminds me of Mary Temple’s work in it’s softness. I had actually never consciously noticed it before yesterday when I was perusing around for the paint chip post. Connecting these two, made me think about white tattoos on pale skin. How it can look barely there and delicate. But I have yet to find any pictures of ones I really like to show, and I hear they’re kind of risky.

So, yes, after yesterdays Bright and Colorful post, and my busy kooky what-the day, I’ve opted for a moment of hush hush prettyness. But, you know, I think this look could be done nicely with color, too, when you use two colors that are fairly close together only a few shades lighter or darker. Create a subtle design. Hmm. Or an “intricate subtle” using a few colors that are close enough together to be subtle but can be differentiated enough to render a little pattern. Maybe possibly. I’d experiment and show, but I’m tired. Some other time perhaps, we’ll play.

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