Five things that make me happy

1. Penpal

I have mail! The real handwritten, pen ‘pon paper kind. From my brand new penpal all away from Californiway. Big thanks to Margaret of Paper Pastries, a beautiful blog. Think it’s time to invest in some pretty writing material – yay! How I love paper shopping. Got my eye on these bad boys from Kate’s Paperie (US) and Papernation (UK):

2. Star Slinger

Can’t get enough of Star Slinger, and this visual accomplice to their new tune pushed that fuzzy feeling even further.

3. Accessorize

Went for a shopping spree on Friday and allowed myself a wander around Accessorize. Something I need to do with caution. This place makes my head spin with it’s ridiculously well designed jewellery, bags, well… accessories obv. In my wildest dreams I’d be a jewellery designer for them, for now I’ll just gawk like a seagull looking at a chip on Brighton pier.

4. The Lovely Bones (2010)

Just finished watching The Lovely Bones and while the film isn’t perfect (I really couldn’t stand Saoirse Ronan’s whispery voice… that’s all) they have done an incredible job at visually creating a world for the deceased. It’s a genuine serotonin increasing section of the film, watch it on mute and put on some Star Slinger.

5. Take 5

And finally, what would my happiness be without some chocolate covered peanut butter crunchy goodness? A cheeky visit to Covent Garden’s Cybercandy gave resulted in a Hershey’s Take 5 bar munch. Good things indeed do come in fives.

Accessorise like an Egyptian

Ho ho ho what a super title eh!? An interest of mine since the tender age of eight, is Ancient Egypt. The gold, the gods, the respect to cats… they had it down. I know I’ll blog more in depth about this in the future, but for now I want to focus on this: Egyptian revival via jewelery. How fun! And a great Etsy search session… check out my finds!

1. Scarab ring $15

2. Embalming fluid bottle charm $5

3. Hieroglyphic buttons $9.50

4. Steampunk scarab necklace $48

5. Czech glass scarab necklace $38

6. Sterling silver twig ankh $270

7. Pyramid ring $66 (not an Etsy find but work of the amazing Lilian Crowe – I’m sure you’ve seen this posted elsewhere but big props, her jewelry gave me the idea/obsession of Egyptian themed jewelry in the first place!)

Pattern Love

So in my recent blog drooling sessions I’ve found myself particularly inspired in pattern-producing, which is slowly but surely encouraging me to complete my own Pattern Project. I think a big thank you is in order for these incredibly talented peeps:

Helen Dardik (Orange you Lucky blog)

Illustrator, designer, mum – I can’t imagine how busy she must be but on top of this writes a fantastic blog, lookie ‘ere. I really love these, super cute patterns she’s produced.

Claire Madicott

Big respect to this business lady – founder of a publishing company who make greeting cards, gift wrap, stationary and do a very good job of it too. These were some of my faves, but you should definitely check out the selection yourself.

Dan Funderburgh

Oh boy do I have serious talent-envy when I look at this guy’s work. An impressive client range, and some even more impressive creative work. Look and weep.

Amanda Lincoln

Lastly, but lovingly, this super talented lady who specialties include product design, corporate identity and Ceroc dancing (yeah I hadn’t heard of it either, but it looks like serious fun, I wanna go!). These are some of my top picks, find more here.

Smiling Cat Curly Tree (Pattern #01)

The first of the Lace Based Pattern Project results. I think this is the cutest, mainly because of the smiling cat face I see in it. No one else…? Oh… But who knows, may be some future patterns will also hold these hidden gems. I love playing with the colours, you really get a different vibe from each – preferences anyone? They’re like my babies, I couldn’t possibly choose…

cat-tree-toytown

Toy Town

cat-tree-hippymelon

Hippy Melon

cat-tree-alien

Alien Planet

cat-tree-spring

Springtime

cat-tree-violets

Parma Violets

The Lace Based Pattern Project

If I trace back to my original inspiration for this project, I’d end up at the exhibit of Joana Vasconcelos’ fantastic work, hosted at the Haunch of Venison, London. I can’t even begin to explain how perfect her work is to suit my taste – animal models covered in hand-made lace, a maze of nothing but fluorescent plastic flowers and monstrous creatures made from beautiful materials. I present this artist with ‘Silly Good’, my ultimate badge of honour. Lookie ‘ere:

joana

Ok so added to this gush of inspiration, came my desire to get a tattoo around my wrist of a lace pattern I’d designed. Don’t judge. But this needed to be designed… So I got to work. Probably a good thing, but I eventually got so into creating pretty patterns based on lace trimmings I collected, that I decided my wrist couldn’t fit all these designs, so they need to be shared with the world through other mediums. And here we are…

I plan to post a shitload of these over the coming weeks, and at some point down the line, turn some into wrapping paper, prints, tats(?) and whatever else lends itself to hosting my pattern chunder. Enjoy.

Skulls and Skeletons

I have an odd (some might say) interest in bones. Skeleton used to scare the bejeezus out of me as a kid, and in recent years, I just find skeletal forms amazingly inspirational. Fortunately I don’t need to get up to anything morbid to find my muse, last year I was recommended an art workshop held in Reading Town Hall. Not the likeliest of venues, but bless them they try. I was working on a project (looky) with Jon Roberts, who informed me about it and we attended this Skulls and Skeletons workshop, run by Ingrid Jensen (both part of the Whiteknights Studio Trail).

It was a really great opportunity to get to hold these specimens, and have time to study and record them. Not quite the same, but hopefully you’ll get a sniff of inspiration from some of mine and Ingrid’s photos:

jaw1
jaw2beaver2

badger
skull1
skull2
skull3
skull4
skull5

If you fancy, show some support to the Whiteknights Studio Trail by visiting their Facebook page.

Brian Catling

A few months ago I came across this film, Vanished: A Video Seance on Vimeo, in a search for some new scares. Happily, I indeed got my fear fix. I won’t go and spoil it for you, just watch here and enjoy (and if you don’t take my word for it, The Guardian rates it too.)

Now, I wasn’t aware of the masterminds behind Vanished at the time, but shortly after I went to see Magic Show – an exhibit bringing the worlds of magic and art together, at the Pump House gallery. As I walked in, I was given a real cat-on-ceiling scare when Brian Catling’s Notes & Bones From a Conjurors Table sprung/jerked/twirled into life for a brief stint of world class kinetic art – before calmly resetting to its original position. As did I. Check out some of the parts in action on Brian’s website.

So to tie this up, I went and googled Catling’s piece, as it was for me, the most memorable and affecting item on show in the exhibit (which was as a whole, also very impressive). So what did I discover? Yes! Catling was indeed that mastermind (along with Tony Grisoni) behind Vanished! A very exciting artist discovery, which I know have to share.

Not only is this man a super talented poet, sculptor and performance artist – he’s also a nice guy who very kindly, supplied me with images of a piece titled Fallen Bow, which I can’t wait to see up close for myself.

Fallen Bow

Courtesy of www.briancatling.com

Beko Digital Singles Label

Well I could ramble on about the decline of music sales, the loss of physical music formats and the death of the album etc etc… Hell, I wrote a 12,000 word dissertation on the subject. So let’s save that for another post, and get on with the show. It’s pretty clear that the music industry is in a state of flux, times are a-changin’. Music selling giants HMV announced this week 60 of their stores are closing. I’m not going to pretend this will effect me in the slightest, but it does make me sad to think physical formats will be potentially lost forever if digital sales are the only way forward. I like holding my music.

On the sunny side of the egg, this digi-future that’s raising it’s head can also be a blessing – pushing artists and distributors to experiment with new forms of packaging, promoting and selling music. One label that’s currently winning on this front is Beko DSL. As far as I know, these guys are purely online and have been around since mid-2009. They release singles and EP’s for free (yeah, the legal type of free!) every Monday and thus, making the world a better place.

The website is slick, minimal and unusual enough to make me smile. The album covers are beautifully designed and branded cleverly. Oh and the music? Well that’s pretty super too – the artists featured are fresh as a daisy and usually in the electronic and/or dreampoppy shoegazey spectrum. A brilliant way of promoting new bands and embracing the digital music future. Thank you Beko!

beko music covers

Marian Bantjes

So my lovely sis presented me with Marian Bantjes I Wonder for Christmas and ohhh lordy I cannot get enough of it. Just the cover is enough entertainment – and gold edged pages yum!

MB-cover
Courtesy of www.booooooom.com

Bantjes is basically everything I want to be: designer, typographer, writer, illustrator, businesswoman and public speaker. Ok scrap the last one for me, we’ll leave that to her. Seriously talented, just get a load of the eye candy at her website.

The book I Wonder is hard to categorize – my sister’s brief was a general ‘well good designy book please’, so I wasn’t really expecting a collection of essays on subjects ranging from heraldry to the alphabet to Muslim art. The way it’s illustrated and typeset is totally new to me. It’s intricacy and beauty make every page as important as the last, and it’s as much a page turner as any award winning thriller, seriously. And it’s funny. Like in the chapter relating to astrology, stars and planets are lovingly represented with beads and gems – it’s basically how I wish I was taught in Physics.

Buy this book and love this lady.

MJ-01

MJ-02

MJ-03

High Society @ The Wellcome Collection

So as a cultural break between Christmas and New Years binging, lazing and screen-staring, I dragged my sorry ass to an exhibit at the Wellcome Collection, Euston. A little background on this magical place: I guess it’s primarily a museum – but I think their own tagline describes it best, ‘a free destination for the incurably curious’. Beautiful. Now I genuinely aim to go to every exhibit they have going, and this one had Time Out egging me to go even more…

High Society is basically a collection of drug-related paraphernalia, films, texts, images and general oddities from throughout history.  There’s way too much to go into, so I just want to highlight some of my most memorable discoveries. Starting with Tracy Moffatt’s Laudanum. This super talented photographer, film maker and general pro hails from down under, specifically, Brisbane. I couldn’t get much info on this piece, but I can tell you it’s a series of black and white photographs, and you can pick up a book featuring some of the shots here. I can’t say I’ve ever experienced any opiate, but this series of distorted, surreal environments and sleepy shadowy figures really gave me an impression of the dreamlike stupor laudanum might bring about.

This image, Laudanum #03 kills me.
Laudanum 03
© Copyright of the Roselyn Oxley Gallery.

Now for a backwards-bicycle trip on LSD. Rodney Graham is the mastermind behing Photokinetoscope, 5 minutes of a 16mm film loop played on a projector alongside 15 minutes of a music, also looping, on a vinyl record player. The delight here is that the projector is activated when the needle on the record player hit the vinyl – courtesy of that Edison fella. It’s a little shaky as an invention compared to his usual standard, but it’s inaccuracy in synchronicity allows for some numerous and potentially amazing musical/visual combo’s. Graham was on LSD for his bike ride around the Tiergarten which forms most of the film, and all you really need to know is here. It really is an enjoyable visual/aural journey, and if you don’t ever get to experience it for yourself, at least check out the tune the artist created here.

Ok so what would a mind-altering drug related collection be without an appearance from Alice? I was really quite shocked that I hadn’t seen this 1966 rendition of Alice in Wonderland, a TV episode directed by Jonathan Miller. I’m still putting Jan Svankmejer’s version as my #01, but this is definitely up there. It’s sharp, black and white appearance and use of more humans rather than talking animals and objects, make for a less dreamlike take on the story, and it’s pretty clear it wasn’t a production aimed at children. Well have a watch and decide what your favourite version of Carroll’s masterpiece is.

Jon Miller Alice

Faaack enough b&w already. Time for some pretty colours. This was the moment that really made me want to hit the hallucinogens, and it came courtesy of Joshua White and his famous Joshua Light Show, which had it’s hey-day in the late 1960’s – early 1970’s in Fillmore East, NYC. (Nice interview with him here btw). The ultimate stereotypical hippy backdrop for the bands and artists who played here, bubbly shapes in bright colours moving slowly around. Far out man. The best part really is what’s going on behind the projection screen. The ultimate laboratory. Vinyls, beer and bottles of coloured liquid. Oh how I wish I snuck my camera out, but these should explain it well enough:

Joshua 01

Joshua 02

Joshua 03

And so concludes my trip around the Wellcome Collection’s High Society, running 11th November ’10 – 27th February ’11. You in London? Go see. It’s free!

Donut Love

Choo Choo Doodle the first! This was my artistic response to how much I frickin LOVE DONUTS. This love affair began as a child, when I was taken – fairly infrequently, thank god – to Dunkin Donuts in Carnaby Street. Sad times, the DD franchise has exited the UK. Now everyone’s like ‘yeah but Krispy Kreme OMG!!’ – no my friends. KK does not compare.

Anyhow, I believe Donut Love is worth sharing with the world, so this Choodle might just make it to a tee design. Watch this space…

donutlove-fin

Check out the original Choodle here.

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