16 February 2017

Getting to know the Kuretake watercolors

Last fall I gave my daughter a set of Kuretake watercolors, which I have been wanting to try out ever since. After spending a few happy days with them recently, I offered to make a trade of sorts—I would keep the box of Kuretakes and treat her to a trip to the belle arti store, where she could assemble her own custom set of watercolors. That was her original intention, but I had ordered her the Kuretakes as a surprise before realizing this. Even though she was gracious about the gift, I can relate to the excitement of composing a personal palette, and figured my proposal would be a happy solution.

So I have been "getting to know" my inherited watercolors, which come in a delightful green box (shown further down the post). Since many of them appear so much darker in their pans I have been creating a reference guide, with the corresponding numbers...


I love the packaging: a beautiful green box, with metallic Japanese characters...


Last fall I began working on an invitation suite designed around a leaf theme, but had to hit pause when I got caught up with the launching of Studio Milledisegni. In the meanwhile, I have grown so fond of the repetitive action of painting leaves that it's become somewhat of a meditation. Below are some of my leaf-covered sheets... Stay tuned for the card designs, which are quite different from these all-over patterns!


I hope those of you currently in winter are surviving what can often be the hardest weeks. Seeing the paperwhite bulb shoots growing taller by the day (above) is certainly making the days more enjoyable in my studio! And if you are still in the middle of summer, may it linger a while longer...

19 January 2017

A new daily practice for 2017

I'm really enjoying my daily practice for 2017. As a way to capture those thoughts that always seem to be getting away, I decided to commit a few lines to paper via my Olivetti Lettera 22 each day. Even though my random thoughts do usually manage to get written down somehowon scraps of paper, in the corners of already well-filled sketch book pages or even on my phone—it feels good to have found a way to start collecting some of them.

The easy part is writing—I "write" in my head all day long!—but I've realized how used to erasers, auto-correct and spell-check I have become...not to mention simply having the ability to edit. Rarely do my words tumble out as a true expression of exactly what I mean to say, or how I think it should best be said. The time spent with the typewriter is helping me to learn how to better define a thought in my mind first (though when I read back over them later I am finding that I often leave out letters, or even key words). I imagine the process will get easier as the weeks progress, and I hope the writing will become less clumsy/more elegant. In any case, I do look forward to sitting before the typewriter each day, hearing/feeling the metal type bouncing off the paper, watching the letters make words and the lines beginning to transform the previously empty space... It is these physical aspects that I appreciate as much as the words themselves.

A handful of entries...


{Incidentally, the name of the narrow street outside the studio window is
"Sdrucciolo de' Pitti" (since it leads out of Piazza Pitti). I had lived here for a while
before a local corrected my pronunciation of sdrucciolo (accent on the first syllable)
 truly delightful when said by an Italian, hence the pleasure of hearing it!}


And a few more...


Another thing I'm excited about this year is painting this wall's-worth of canvases; there are nine in total, each just 40x50 cm. I prefer to work on much bigger canvases, but there's too much going on in our apartment to accommodate the activity of painting at such a scale (or to display the paintings when they're done!). I don't know when I'll get started, but for now I am enjoying their promisemy private installation to "Possibility"...

I hope that 2017 is still feeling full of promise and possibility for others as well...I don't know about you, but I wish I could hang on to that "New Year" feeling all year long! Here's to as much creativity and beauty as we can find...

01 January 2017

Happy 2017 all around the world!

I had such a wonderful time designing cards for Studio Milledisegni's preview collectionit was hard to choose just one to share my New Year's wishes! I opted for some sparkle—why not ring in 2017 with a hint of shimmer and shine (and bright hopes)? Originally designed as an invitation, this design was inspired by the fabulous chandeliers that mesmerize me every time I visit Venice...

Happy New Year!

31 December 2016

Daily Measures XII

We've had a beautiful last day of 2016 in Florence, and the studio was full of sunshine this afternoon. I thought I would share an image I posted to Instagram today since it shows where my "Daily Measures" project has ended up.

As the year progressed, I realized that (as simple as my daily practice was) the monthly making/setting up of the booklet had become an impediment; if I began the month without preparing the pages, the strips would accumulate with nowhere to go. By the time summer arrived, with family visiting & traveling, I had gotten off-track. Saving papers to use for each daily "story line" had become second nature, though, so I came up with the idea of weaving them. First in the orderly fashion of some of my past paper weavings, but once the busy summer was over the concept started to reflect the pre-launch period for Studio Milledisegni (which was insanely crazy for me), the weavings became looser/less orderly...

Then, as I was completing my series of paper designs for Studio Milledisegni, I got the idea to use a month's-worth of strips to create a small-scale paper chain for our little lemon balm "tree" (shown in the image above). At the beginning of December it was still covered with fresh leaves, but they began to fall part way through the month, slowly making way for the ever-growing chain. 

I love the shadows (and the "chaos" they create on the wall), though this does make it somewhat hard to differentiate between the branches/twigs and the shadows they cast. On the note of chaos, this is probably the word that best defines 2016 for me. Likely for that reason, a sense of "calm" has been my quest as I take a break over the holidays. And this is what inspired our Christmas tree this year. After removing the copper leaves with the words my daughter & I had chosen last Christmas (described partway through this post, and which we will hang on the olive tree at the rose garden), we decorated the LED-lit branches with clear glass balls + crystal chandelier bits & pieces. Its mingling of simplicity & exuberance brings me joy every time I look at it. And I love how the sunshine mixes with the crystals, scattering "rainbows" everywhere during the hours of light...

I wish you a lovely last day of 2016 
...and may your 2017 begin in joy!

19 December 2016

Notes on creating patterns

For the past year I've been busy with pattern-making. A handful of designs came about through digitally recoloring my hand-marbled papers. Some, like the pomegranates, artichokes & lemons shown further along this post, are based on illustrations I made for my BookArtObject cubes ( Mise en place); others are composed of layers & layers of precisely spaced letters (now unrecognizable as such), an idea inspired by a past ALaW project.

I had in mind a collection of a dozen or so to begin with, but "exponential" is a word that comes to mind when describing this project! The number has fluctuated as the designs evolved, but I finally settled on thirty-two for now.




Below is a snapshot from when I was in the process of organizing, shuffling & reorganizing the printouts into mini "collections"many times!a process I found immensely satisfying/enjoyable after the intense, detail-oriented period of designing & editing.

I was searching for some kind of logic behind the various combinations, and it was actually quite challenging to arrive at a single, "ultimate" way to group thembut the great thing I realized is that there's plenty of flexibility. Personally, I love the idea of being able to assemble a custom set of just about anything, whether it's a palette of oil paints/watercolors/pencils...or a set of stationery or dishes or clothing. Flexibility & choice are both cornerstones of Studio Milledisegni, but I must admit that it was difficult to come up with a good way to present all of the options to customers!

Here are a few of the natural groupings that "emerged"...

There are many more designs (not to mention combinations), and I'm hoping that others have as much fun as I did when putting together their own customized sets. (The 12"x18" sheets are offered in "mix & match your own" sets of 8/12/20/32.) I've been using them for wrapping small gifts (as shown in my last post), lining drawers, creating gift tags & envelope liners, and one of my favorite ideas so far has been a book cover. I trimmed  one of the marbled papers to wrap around a book I was giving my daughter for her birthday, so it served first as the gift wrap, and now as a dust jacket/place marker. We're hoping to make some decorations for our Christmas tree with the papers this coming week, and I'm excited to see what other creative souls will come up with...

Some of these designs are also offered through my studioMdesigns items (cell phone cases, zippered studio pouches, clocks, notebooks, etc., which are produced by a print on demand company). While paper will always be my first love (and it feels odd to give up control over the production process) I must admit that it can be pretty intoxicating to see one's work transformed into such a vast selection of media!




I hope you are all finding time to be creative, whether in the kitchen, the studio, the garden...or wherever you might/must be spending your time at the moment. Happy holiday season!

12 December 2016

Paper + Sugar

I thought I'd share a few things I made for my daughter's nineteenth birthday last month. I always look forward to creating something to make her day more special, whether from paper or eggs/butter/sugar/chocolate (usually all of the above)!

The image above (and the next two) show an accordion booklet/"card." I chose one photo from each year of my daughter's life—twenty in total, including the year she was born. It was so much fun to hunt down old photos...though extremely difficult to narrow my selection down to only one per year! I was fascinated to see the changes from one year to the next...sometimes it seemed like a natural/logical progression; other times as if I was looking at two different girls!

One of my hand-marbled designs (that I digitally colored) made a sort of title card in the clear "envelope."




My birthday is just a few weeks before my daughter's, and since she spends most of October "researching" a cake for me (!), it's not easy to follow her act in the birthday cake department. She's become quite enamored of the "tris" concept lately, so I decided to put together a trio of sweets: I made spiced espresso brownies + a cardamom & cinnamon chocolate mousse served with fresh cream, and there's also a flourless chocolate/chili pepper cake from our favorite local bakery . It was a perfect excuse to use our gorgeous platinum-rimmed Annie Glass plates, which allowed some breathing space for the sweet indulgences!



My daughter's birthday came just a few days before the StudioMilledisegni launch, and it was exciting to be able to use some of my original paper designs to wrap her birthday gifts this yearsomehow those I had test printed ended up going together quite well. Shown in the photo below are a few batik-y patterns that (believe it or not) began life as an ALaW project (thank you, Fiona AKA Paper Ponderings!)...dozens of letter shapes are manipulated/juxtaposed with/superimposed upon one another. The swirly pattern is one of my digitally colored hand-marbled papers, and the one in front at the left is a reproduction of a copper tray that has developed a beautiful patina over the years.

This style of wrapping gifts, with the multiple accordion folds, is something I picked up when I lived in Brazil in the 70s—even at the basic/everyday department store (there was one called Lojas Americanas, i.e. "American Stores") someone would wrap packages like this at the cash register while the cashier was ringing up your purchases. (I wonder if they still do this?) I am hoping to do a how-to video on Instagram once I add the decorative paper sets to my shop...

Even after a couple of weeks, I am not quite used to the idea that I am the mother of a nineteen-year-old. I must say I feel pretty lucky to still have her at homeI was off to college at seventeen, but the kids go to high school for five years in Italy. She fills our home with music & creativity, not to mention the fragrance of her inspired baking!
Hoping you have all had a very happy December so far, and paper & sugar wishes to everyone...

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