Wednesday, April 30, 2008

weekly delights

The Dutch design duo Jantien de Wilde and Jane Stroink makes these beautiful blankets from recycled sweaters, jeans, bedding materials, and other textiles. They are then creatively embellished with ribbons, lace and threads. Each blanket is named after a homeless person or a hero and 15% of the proceeds are donated to a shelter in Amsterdam. Ladak means warmth, comfort, and protection, and like people in need each of these blankets is unique.

Several years ago I discovered Canadian artist Sharilyn Wright and Lovely Design. Sharilyn makes the most delightful paper goods. Her books are made from reclaimed paper scraps, enhanced with hidden treasures such as old stamps and glassine envelopes for special keepsakes. The handprinted posters celebrate the Canadian nature and her thoughtful note cards, and clever address files are equally enchanted. Everything is created in an eco-friendly manner including clever packaging which eliminates the need for plastic. You can find out more about Sharilyn and her work on her blog
Jai and Lauren Soloy's woodworking studio sleeping forest is located in rural Nova Scotia, Canada. They make exquisite furniture, cabinetry, albums, boxes, business card holders, and spinning tops.  I have picked out a few pieces that I find especially irresistible from their etsy shop. The cedar waxwing pair is my favorite - made from carefully selected hardwood pieces to match the birds' actual colors. You can find out more about Jai and Lauren's life and work by visiting their blog.

Friday, April 25, 2008

liljekonvalj and dogwoods

Few flowers are more symbolic for me than these two. Liljekonvalj, or Lily of the valley, represents my Swedish childhood. Wherever we lived, from the baltic island of Gotland, to the coastal area of southern Halland and the tenant house we rented on a southern estate, there vas always an abundance of liljekonvalj both wild and cultivated. It is my favorite flower and I am lucky to find them quite content in my current garden. The delicate bells have a divine scent, that now fills up my studio. The dogwoods are the essence of my life in Virginia. They are currently in full bloom all around town, along the highways, and scattered in the woods. We have two old trees in our front yard, magnificent despite their relative smallness. The blooms seem to hover on almost bare twigs and the branch structure is very sculptural. In the fall the shapely leaves will turn bronze and burgundy for yet another time in the limelight.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

modern fabrics

Ewa and James Powell has turned fabric recycling into a genius business model. The couple salvages discarded fabric remnants from furniture and upholstery industries and resells the high end fabrics to the public on their website Modern Fabrics. Not only do they keep these beautiful textiles out of the landfill, but they also enable artists, interior designers, and other creative people to buy them for a fraction of the original price. Above are examples of two fabrics that I have purchased. To the left is a wonderful wool fabric from Knoll, it is a lustrous shade of green and has fantastic drape. It is still on the roll waiting for the perfect purpose. To the right is an old office chair that we reupholstered in a striped green fabric made from recycled polyester – both durable and attractive.
Modern Fabrics is featured in the april/may issue of Ready Made magazine in a lovely article that applauds Ewa and James' efforts. Pick up a copy or check out Ready Made online for more information. Below are a few of my favorite fabrics currently for sale at Modern Fabrics.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

happy returns

Oh, what a wonderful time we had. A few days away from everyday routines and demands is nice once in a while. Just me and my lovely husband and the beautiful city of Chicago. The weather was delightful (high sixties, sunny, only a slight breeze), the food was delicious (especially the dinner at Le Colonial on Rush street), and it was a joy to sleep in for a change (no alarm clock or eager hungry dogs around.)   
The only problem (besides a small subway snafu the day I arrived) was my otherwise loyal camera malfunctioning at times. I am unhappy to admit that it probably is time for an upgrade. Regardless, here are some representative images and thoughts along the way...

Heading out for a morning jog along Lake Michigan.

Patterns – the underside of a bridge crossing Chicago River and a grid from an old elevator shaft at the Chicago Art Institute.

A great time at Wrigley field. The Cubs won big, we watched the pitcher hit a double, a stolen home base, and Kosuke Fukudome's field position was just a few yards away from our seats.

An entire afternoon was reserved for the Art Institute of Chicago. Favorites were the collection of ancient celadon blue chinese pottery and Gustave Caillebotte's  Rainy day.

Frank Lloyd Wrights home in Oak Park was another highlight. The man may have had some personal and financial issues, but he was a visionary. The house is small and intimate, still infused in light, warmth and a wealth of cleaver design ideas.

We also had some time for shopping (mostly for the boys), latte sipping in the sun, random pub visits, and never ending people watching. Still, as with any successful vacation I am now equally happy to be back home in my joyful everyday routine...

Monday, April 14, 2008

folds and foilage

I am leaving you with a snapshot of another project I am working on, this one involving lots of folds and fantastic vintage Irish linen. Prints of leaves will be incorporated at some point as well. Also, I can't resist these freshly sprung japanese maple leaves in my front yard. The color combination is perfect in that strange way that only nature can provide. Anywhere else it would look garish. Chicago is waiting. I'll be back next week with photos, marvels, and impressions.

Friday, April 11, 2008

weekly delights

Susan Benarcik
I love New York based artist Susan Benarcik's work! She reuses, recycles, and rearranges objects discarded by nature or humanity. Her wonderful installations, sculptures, photographs and designs raise an awareness and appreciation of our natural resources. Her solo exhibition Collected Response is currently on display at Maiden Lane Exhibition Space in New York (call 212.206.6061 for more information). She is will also participate in the Surtex show in New York on May 18-20, where she will exhibit new textiles and other surface designs.

The design and artist cooperative Trunkt is a wonderful resource for anything creative and hand made. Here you will find an array of amazing portfolios with links to the artists websites if you are in the mood for shopping...

Talented potter and ceramist Diana Fayt creates beautiful bowls, plates, mugs and other vessels out of stoneware clay. Visit her etsy shop and her lovely blog for more information.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

off to chicago

I am going to chicago next week. I am excited to get away for a few days and to explore a new city. We have several galleries and museums on our list, and the cubs are playing at wrigley field... but I would love insider information about fun and different things to do. Let me know about your favorite restaurants, shops, markets, and other inspirational chicago spots.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

more pillows

new pillows soon to be added to the store and etsy. The japanese maple applique pillows will be available in two sizes and two colors. The fern & fold pillows are printed on natural linen featuring fun pin tucks. All my pillows come with a choice of organic wool insert (incredibly soft) or traditional feather/down insert (nice and pliable.)

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

spring unfurling

It is unseasonably chilly here in central Virginia, but somehow spring still makes its way. A buckeye sapling is unfurling its leaves and the crab apple in the far corner of our yard is in full bloom. The geraniums are leafing out (ready for printing yet again) and Trevor, the frog fountain, is waiting for action in his soapstone basin. The fruit trees are blooming as well, both plums and asian pears try hard to attract the honey bees... Thanks to all of you who visited the bloom show, in person or in spirit. The opening went well and the middle room in the gallery was bursting with lushness, flora, and fresh imagery. 

Thursday, April 3, 2008

weekly delights

Jennifer Anderson
I first met Jennifer and saw her work at the ACC show in Baltimore in February where she participated in the Searchlight exhibit which celebrates emerging artists and designers. Jennifer creates one-of-a-kind furniture pieces that combine tradition with experimentation. She encourages people to reconsider their relationship with familiar objects, such as Danish designer Hans Wegner's classic Y-chair which she re-created out of mud. I love her masterfully crafted screens, which could be used as room dividers or sophisticated shelving systems.

Talented designer Julia at Red Otter makes these exquisite journals and other paper goods. They are available in her etsy store and she also writes about her work and other beautiful things on her blog.

This London-based Finnish designer manipulates and constructs felted wool into beautiful cushions, bags, wall hangings, throws, and other objects that just begs to be touched. 
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