Monday, August 31st, 2009
One of my favorite events of the summer is the Minnesota State Fair. And one of my favorite things to do at the fair is to go through the poultry barn. I love birds, as do my boys, and we go up and down every row, looking at each and every chicken, duck, goose, dove, turkey and pigeon (I’m sure I’m forgetting a species).
I am always amazed at the variety of chickens and how varied their patterning and colorings are. It’s hard to pick a favorite. I loved the soft grey feathers with the darker grey outlines (upper right image) but the little one with the black outlined feathers stole my heart with one look.
Tuesday, August 25th, 2009
We spent some time in Door County, WI last weekend, for an end of summer getaway. I’ve lived in a city on the Pacific ocean and also one on Lake Michigan, and I have to say that while I love both, the great lakes really have my heart. There is something a little rougher or grittier about lakes that I like. They are midwestern. Sort of like the difference between Chicago and NYC -less picturesque. Unlike the oceans, the great lakes never really warm up either, so my memories of walking along them are always about the shore, gathering stones, and bundling up against the constant wind. For me that is the perfect beach memory.
This past weekend I was really taken by the colors and textures on the shore. The skies were a bit overcast, which made the light nice and grey. We walked out onto Cana Island, and the shore here is bright white, filled with tiny shells instead of sand. The white made a beautiful contrast next to the grey blue water and grey, green and rusty colored grass.
Monday, August 24th, 2009
marfa path print, ink wood block print on wool
Thank you all so much for the nice comments about my new studio. I’m still in shock that I actually get to work there everyday. And even when it gets messy, it’s so fun to clean up I don’t mind:)
Ever since I made the ink blot prints, I’ve wanted to try printing some more fabric. I’ve been experimenting a bit lately, trying to achieve something that is textural rather than figural.
This is a wood block print, inspired by the drawing I made of my path past the concrete boxes on my trip to Marfa, Texas.
I love how you can see the wood grain in the ink, which gives it even more texture. I also like the irregular amount of ink that occurs in the printing. I think this gives it a lot of depth. This is printed on a lightweight woven wool, which I like for the varigated quality and drape. I also printed it on denim, which is quite nice and textural too.
Two books that I recently acquired about fabric printing that I found extremely helpful:
Printing by Hand, by Lena Corwin
Fabric Printing, by Lotti Lauterburg (this one is from 1959 and out of print, but so cool)
marfa path print detail, ink wood block print on wool
Tuesday, August 18th, 2009
I have dreamed of having a home studio/workspace since I was young. Really. Ever since I’ve been little I’ve drawn and painted and sewn and done crafts, all on the kitchen or dining room table. Or the floor of my room. I’d see pictures of studios in magazines and think about how great it would be to have a space to leave things in progress out and a place for all of my supplies so I wouldn’t have to search through numerous boxes and bins and cabinets to find stuff, usually not finding it and getting discouraged and giving up.
Now I have that space. It makes me so happy and it feels like a huge luxury. The last few days I’ve been going down and just standing in the space, turning around. I feel proud that I took what was a grim storage room in our basement and turned it into one of my favorite rooms in the house, basically by clearing out and throwing tons of paint at it. In January I wrote about turning our basement storage room into a studio space -painting and cleaning and clearing out and organizing. And now here it is August, and I’m almost done. Even though it has been 7 months, the actual time that I worked on this was probably a week. Life just got in the way between days 3 and 7:)
basement studio plan (formerly storage space) aprox. 13′ x 16′
So many people have told me that they have the same dream too, and it’s really so doable, I thought I would tell you about the process of setting up my space. And if you think you don’t have a place for a studio, look again. Our basement was seriously nasty (and the rest of it still is) but with a lot of cleaning and a lot of paint you can work wonders.
So, here are a few tips about setting up a workspace quickly in less than desirable conditions, without a lot of money:
Do one high impact thing right away
Choose something that will look like you’ve made progress, make you happy and get you motivated to continue. For me that was painting one of the dirty tan concrete block walls white. Once that wall was clean and white, the space was brighter and I could envision what it would all be like. Then I taped up some photographs so I’d have something inspirational to look at every time I entered the room.
Get everything out of the space that doesn’t have to go there
Put everything else into bins, boxes or bags. This was really important for me. It was overwhelming to think about organizing all of my fabric, supplies, books, etc. plus all of the basement items not related to my studio that needed to stay in the room. I just threw everything into plastic bins and baskets and stacked them in the middle of the room. Once the visual clutter was organized I could breathe easier. Each bin might have random stuff inside that still needed to be sorted and put away but that could happen later after the major parts of the room were organized.
Paint is transformative and white is magic.
Paint is relatively cheap and painting a space with a fresh coat will really make it feel clean, bright and new. I’m a big proponent of painting walls, woodwork, shelving, doors, ceilings and floors all the same color, preferably white. Painting over everything, especially in a basement space, will make it feel cohesive, especially when you have a bunch of disparate and not exactly great materials. I painted the concrete block walls, old wood storage shelving, existing peg board walls and dry, cracked window trim. Having it all the same color makes the space seem bigger. Now my eye doesn’t catch on all the nooks and crannies and stains and it feels fresh. Making it all white allows everything you put into the space take a front seat. I want to focus on the work I’m making and bits of art I put in the space, not the old cracked walls. Colorful art and fabric doesn’t have to compete with the background. And white bounces what little light there is around, making it brighter. To this end the tables, desks and cabinets I added are all white as well, and become part of the room.
I draped some fabric on the wall to hide ugly exposed conduit and outlet
make do and make peace with settling for less.
You might remember my masterplan for our basement studio and playspace. Well as I mentioned in January, if I waited for exactly what I wanted I’d still be waiting. So I started thinking about what I really needed, and how I could make that happen with what I could do myself, using things I had or could buy inexpensively. One of the most important things for me is light. I need the space to be bright to work and since it is in the basement that requires electric lighting. Hiring an electrician would be out of my budget but I didn’t want to take the time to learn how to wire up track lighting myself. I started poking around the hardware store and discovered that you can get an adaptor to make track lighting plug in. It took about an hour to screw 3 strips of track to the underside of the joists, attach the plug to the end and snap in the light heads. Then I just stapled the cords to the joists and ran them all to one power strip. Almost instant halogen light that is adjustable to any corner of the room.
There are several spots in the room that have exposed conduit and outlets featured prominently on the middle of walls. I draped some fabric over them and call them art:)
Prioritize and phase things
I painted all the walls but left the floor and ceiling for later. The ceiling (exposed joists, ductwork and conduit) and floor (exposed concrete) will take much longer and be more expensive. I decided that having everything that is at eye level clean and fresh would make the biggest difference.
Use what you have
A few nice items will make all the IKEA/Target/hardware store stuff look better. I shopped our storage and found a mid century chair and dresser that we weren’t using and put them in the space, and now my eye notices the beautiful danish teak first rather than the white coated particle board.
floor to ceiling curtains hide existing built-in storage shelves full of tools and paint
Be flexible and think creatively
There are some existing built in shelves in the space that we have filled with paint cans, tools and various other house things that we really don’t have room for anywhere else. The shelves are ugly and the stuff on them is always jumbled and random. I put up a long floor to ceiling curtain over the front and now I don’t have to see the stuff inside but it’s still easily accessible. It was cheap and easy to put up and I like the added softness and texture of the curtain in the space.
rolls of fabric are stored on high deep wire shelves
You can never have too much storage
Keeping materials off of your work surface keeps the space feeling big and open which will inspire you to want to be in it.
high worktable made out of painted doors on adjustable IKEA legs
The BIG table.
For me the key to having the most efficient and easy to use workspace is a big center work table. If you put a large work surface in the center of a room, you have a large area to lay things out on and you can easily move around it on all sides. The wall surface can become pin up space, or if you have room can accommodate a desk, shelving or other work surface and you can easily move between the two by just turning. Visually the large surface in the center actually makes the space feel bigger. Underneath the table I can store all of those bins full of stuff that I mentioned previously, and it will be there out of sight until I can get to organizing it.
To make a large, inexpensive worktable I took two hollow core doors and added inexpensive IKEA legs. The ones I got are adjustable in height, if you don’t need that option they are even cheaper. Solid doors are more sturdy and would have been preferable, but they were triple the price. On the entrance side of the table I put an IKEA bookcase, to store books and hide all the bins behind. When I walk in I see a pretty shelf full of books, not all the junk under the table.
Some IKEA shopping tips
Of course I wish I could have all of my furniture and cabinets made by my furniture maker friends but this isn’t possible right now. So I turned to IKEA, which is a good option for simple background pieces, as long as you are careful in your selections.
Do a lot of research on their website and look at all of the categories, not just workspace or storage. I originally wanted the EFFEKTIV workspace storage cabinets, but my space was 1 inch too narrow for them to go wall to wall. I really wanted the cabinets to be wall to wall for a sleeker, more built in look. I searched through all of their furniture, and finally came up with a configuration of BESTA media cabinets that fit exactly. I was pleasantly surprised with the quality of the BESTA cabinets. They seem quite sturdy and went together quickly and seamlessly.
Take advantage of IKEA’s shopping list feature. Once I found the cabinets I wanted, I just added all of the components, accessories and inserts to my shopping list and printed it out. The list tells you the price and which aisle and bin number the item is located in. It only took me an hour to go purchase everything and get back home again.
Thursday, August 6th, 2009
a few of my favorite photos from my 365 set. you can see the whole set here.
(A big thank you to all who purchased something from my shop yesterday. I had a number of inquiries about the wrap dress which sold out and I will make a few more in the next week or so.)
At the beginning of the year I started a photography project, taking one photo a day and uploading it to my flickr account. I started out focusing on light and interesting light conditions, and it progressed into thinking about composition in conjunction with light.
Now that the year is more than half over, I’m still taking pictures (although I’m way behind on uploading them) but to be honest the project isn’t as interesting to me anymore. I think I’ve hit a bit of a slump. In the interest of capturing some of the spark and enthusiasm I had at the beginning, I’ve been looking over the set of photographs I’ve taken, trying to see if there are patterns and if there is a new direction I could go in.
As I look over the set I know I definitely like them as a group much more than any individual photo. I also see that the time of year really affects the photo, and I much prefer the light and color in the colder, starker months. High summer, with it’s bright light and bright green palette just aren’t doing it for me. This makes me think I need to start shooting at dusk instead of early morning, which is when I take most of my photos. And maybe I should start shooting indoors more.
Brian at the blue hour always seems to catch the hazy blue dusk light that I love so well. I especially like this roll of film he shot, and this photo, and this one, and this. Really, all his photos have this wonderful light quality that I could just lose myself in. I think shooting film has something to do with the light quality and tones, and of course having a good eye. But I’m not ready to give up digital just yet.
So which photographers do you find inspiring? How do you get out of a photography slump?
a few more favorites from my 365 set.
Wednesday, August 5th, 2009
I’ll be updating my shop this morning around 10am CST. There are some more linen wrap dresses, gossamer scarves, and a few other odds and ends.
Be sure to check out the specially priced scarves -these were test colors that won’t be repeated and it’s a good chance to get a gossamer scarf at a reduced price!
Monday, August 3rd, 2009
Note: My shop update will be this Wednesday, August 3rd, instead of today.
When I was in Seattle in June, I was fortunate enough to have several hours to explore the Seattle Art Museum’s Olympic Sculpture Park. It was by far my favorite place in Seattle. I was especially excited to see it as my students have been studying it as a precedent project for the last few years in one of my architecture studios. This is one of those places that you don’t really understand until you are able to walk through it.
One of the most successful things about it in my opinion is it’s location. Not only is it situated on the bay, but it is also right in the city and is very accessible to anyone who wants to visit. The main entrance is right on the sidewalk on a major city street, surrounded by office buildings and condominiums. I walked over from the center of downtown, and when I came upon the entrance it felt like a wonderful surprise, a very modern, urban building framing views of the bay and a wild landscape.
In Minneapolis we have the Walker Sculpture Garden, which is a wonderful place to wander and see world class contemporary sculpture, but its location is really a destination. And the garden is surrounded by a very formal tall hedge, giving the impression that it is private and somewhat unaccessible, even though it is open and free to the public.
Another aspect of OSP that struck me is the way that landscape and art are integrated. Going to the park is all about wandering the zig zag paths, seeing first views of the bay, and then as you turn back, views of the city. Among this there are native plants and of course the sculpture but it’s really the experience of the whole: walking up to and around and past the sculpture, in the landscape, rather than viewing it from a specified location as a single entity. Again, very different from the Walker, where each sculpture has it’s own space walled off by hedges, and is viewed singly.
I took my time wandering through the park and really enjoyed the juxtopositions of finely executed concrete work, wild scraggly fields of grasses and stands of trees, bright modern sculpture, the serene bay and the glass and steel landscape of the city. A truely wonderful place and resource for Seattle.