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Archive for December, 2009

I haven’t seen “Hoarders”, but The New York Times Magazine for Dec. 20 has a review of the show. I had read a fascinating article in The Smith Alumnae Quarterly about a psych class where students found that there was not only a lack of vocabulary to describe varying levels of disarray in homes but that some people were very uncomfortable with a small amount of chaotic accumulation while others seemed to tolerate a lot more before becoming disconcerted about it. The students filled a room with crushed papers and took pictures as the empty space got smaller and smaller. They then used the pictures as tools for patients unhappy with their clutter to point to as an aid in describing the degree of messiness in their houses. The reasons cited for keeping things were much the same in both articles; either for sentimental reasons, because the item was valuable, or because something about it was attractive (a paper in a particularly pretty shade of purple for instance), and typically, hoarders mix valuable things with potential reffuse because it becomes too overwhelming to make decisions about what to toss, and typically also, they think they will tackle the pile someday….

I am not a hoarder thankfully, but I’m often reminded of the law of physics that says it takes energy to create order out of a chaotic state, and I do have a couple of related afflictions (namely, miniatur-itis and collage artist-itis) which render me very understanding of the aforementioned plight. Sometimes I think it’s a curse to be resourceful, to find potential in every scrap and to recognize the importance of reusing and recycling. I too see the value in pretty little shiny papers and I love finding odd items at flea markets and envisioning creative ways to use them in a miniature context. Here are a couple of examples: a “Tiffany” lamp I made out of a chess pawn (my dad’s favorite game), some acorn cap dishes, a bar of soap carved from a shell, and wire utensils, all made when I was a little girl,

and a more recent shop made from an abandoned, upended desk drawer (the curtain was fashioned from an old pleated blouse of my mother’s).

As for uses for paper, there are literally worlds of possibilities. In this piece I looked for just the right curves in the printed and marbled surfaces and let what I found tell the story.

If the things you’re collecting are materials to fuel creativity, the trick seems to be to store your collections in an organized and accessible fashion. Since starting this post, I have watched a couple of episodes of “Hoarders”, and found it to be truly frightening (as have several of my creative friends!). Understandably, it’s vital to keep a lid on it, to know what you have and where to find it, or else the accumulation in its randomness, just gets in your way.

The cover from this week’s New York Times Magazine looks pretty cluttered to me but a few snips will give it a new order in short measure.

Happy New Year everybody!

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All together now

Here’s the cover for The New York Times Magazine for Dec. 13th, a year of ideas. Can a bubble dress be far behind?

And how about some borrowed fabrics from inside to make some dashing holiday looks for the designers?

There were several thoughts in this Year in Ideas issue suggesting that combining skills could have better outcomes than working individually. Timothy Gowers, a decorated Cambridge mathematician, posted a theorem on his blog which he couldn’t prove (the Density Hales-Jewett Theorem) in hopes that multiple minds could sift through and try and reject more ideas than a mathematician working alone. In six weeks,  dozens of people chipping away at it together over the web, were able to solve the problem that up until that point had eluded everyone. Another idea involves bicycle corridors or highways which would provide safer zones for two wheel travel than the streets bikers share with cars today. In Copenhagen 36,000 bikers use a bike lane in the center of the city every day. The Bicycle Office of Copenhagen has begun work on a system of extra wide bike routes to connect the suburbs to the city center and is considering using GPS technology mounted on handlebars to help bikers coordinate with each other to form “bike busses”  that could turn traffic signals green when enough bikers gather together. Elsewhere in the paper, a team of Stanford University scientists have found that planes flying in an inverted V-formation (adapted from the V-formations favored by birds which allow them to take turns leading and then “resting” farther back in the V on a new leader’s air currents) consumed less fuel and produced less harmful emissions than planes flying solo. How about that? We all prize our individuality and want to be credited for our ideas, but we have big problems facing us today. Our survival might very well depend on cooperation in solving them. Plus, isn’t it more fun figuring things out together?

“Whew, that’s quite the bubble dress, Designer. What inspired you?”

“Well, Perry Ellis designed a wonderful bubble sweater that was featured in Vogue Knitting years ago. I still love the shape. It’s as stylish today as it was in 1989. I was wanting to explore knitwear with this ensemble and that sweater stood out in my mind.”

“Those knitted socks look Medieval.”

“I thought that was a fun reference, thanks…. It’s a knitted bodysuit actually.”

“Oh, let’s see….”

“Nice, it’s form fitting and contemporary, but true to it’s roots in knitting history.”

“Thanks, I’m glad you like it!”

“You are a hand knitter, right Designer?”

“Yes, I like to knit natural forms like this one.”

“Hmmm. That model could use some clothes!”

“Designer, did you see that one of the patents from 2009 was for an illuminated knitting device?”

“Yes, I love it when any mention of knitting makes it into the paper!”

“Ok, Designers, it’s time to get to work making some holiday looks for each other. When you’re done, you’ll be ready for a night on the town.”

“Oh, that’s funny… Poirot partywear!”

“We had a good time with it. We came up with it together.”

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Idea book

This Holiday 2009 New York Times Style Magazine is pretty fabulous, filled with beauty, ideas and inspiration.

I’m seeing designers using materials and techniques that remind me of things I make in miniature. Here’s a ribbon dress by Cynthia Rowley…

and ribbon rugs I make for dollhouses.

I love the furniture ABC Carpet & Home carries that’s upholstered in hand embroidered textiles.

It’s quite similar in spirit to my patchwork paper dollhouse furniture.

There’s even a feature on Pearlies, outfits from London from the 1880’s that were decoratively covered with mother-of-pearl buttons, as inspired by Elizabeth the I’s pearl encrusted raiments and hair.

These are miniature Pearly King and Queen outfits of my own. I’ve covered them with the tiny buttons I make for people who sew miniature doll clothes.

I love the transparency, the play of light/dark and the textural elements of this Dior dress…

this Prada skirt…

and this twisted leather sandal by Chanel.

The shape, drape and pattern play of this Derek Lam ensemble is exciting too (though the model looks famished!).  These are the designers who will inspire me today.

The reality of my challenge fabric from Dec. 6th leaves a bit to be desired, but not to worry, there’s a shiny Jeep on the back which I think might come in handy with a little twist….

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This has been a difficult week, both for liberals and for military families who’ve had enough and want their loved ones to come back home. So, the way to have peace in this world is to have another war? I’m listening but I’m thinking there must be more compassionate ways. We’re talking about putting 30,000 American soldiers at risk (not to mention countless Afghani families) at a cost of $30,000,000,000 a year! I’m worried we don’t have that kind of money as a nation and I’m worried about it coming from the pockets of future generations. It’s too much money and too many people to begin to imagine.


“Designer, you seem to be under the weather, though the cocoon coat you made from The New York Times Magazine cover from November 29th is quite beautiful. Next time we have two inspiring covers which we hope will get you back on your game.”

“Thank you Heidi.”

“It’s ok, Designer, you’re IN. You can leave the runway.”

“Thank you.”

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