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...

24 November 2016

It's been a long time...

It's been a long time since I've been to BloggerLand! And it feels so unfamiliar—either that, or things have actually changed. 

I've been working continuously/almost non-stop to launch my new online design studio, StudioMilledisegni. And what a ride it has been; after months of planning, designing, researching, inventing, editing, learning—you name it—I am finally ready to begin sharing all that I have been working on.

One of the most difficult things about a new adventure like this is that you never feel you are ready...so many ideas/wishes remain unrealized. My inclination was to keep broadening the range of designs and items that I wanted to offer, and throughout the last year I have waffled between thinking "it's still not enough!" and "wow—look how far I have come." I'm sure anyone who has ever gone through a similar experience can relate to the extremes of emotions (as well as the sheer exhaustion). Being the kind of person who enjoys handling every aspect of her projects, I found myself thriving from the challenge, but oftentimes it all felt like way too much for one person.

It almost seems like a miracle that this day actually arrived; a few things checked off today's to-do list should have been addressed months ago! And others have yet to be done—I couldn't believe it when the studio went quiet (suddenly there was no music) and my computer screen went blank. A moment later a message appeared, saying that my computer had "encountered a problem" and needed to be restarted...so part of a very busy day's work was lost (haven't we all been there?). And then there was the sun that failed to appear during my final photo session for the cards. This means I will be re-photographing them, but at least there was enough light to convey the gist (one of the photos is shown at the top of this post). I would have loved to put together some tutorials and free downloads...and finish the many designs still in progress, but for now, it is time to launch StudioMilledisegni in its fledgling form!

I am beginning a new blog over at the StudioMilledisegni website, but may post the entries over here as well for the moment. I've been enjoying Instagram-ing lately, but continue to find it quite limiting in terms of giving context to the images (and I do miss writing!). It's often occurred to me to post my favorite IG photos here and "expand" on them a bit. We shall see!

And one thing is sure—I have missed visiting other blogs these past many months. I hope to be making the rounds soon!

17 March 2016

Daily measures II

And the "Daily measures" practice continues... Above are January's (left-hand pages) & February's (center section) completed, with the first half of March's lines weaving their little stories through the third accordion booklet on the right.

The February "chapter" is entitled Settling——not in the negative sense of having to settle for less than one deserves, but rather in the way that all of January's "possibility" finally began to settle...to find some kind of shape & rhythm. Or at least as much rhythm as one experiences in the constantly evolving creative space that a studio typically is...

As were January's, the strips of paper for February came from a variety of sources: trimmings from projects, packaging, mail, extra prints, bits & pieces that turn up around the studio, etc. The choice of orange for the title & footers was inspired by its presence in all shapes & forms... I had never realized how apt it is as a color for February, but with the kilos of oranges that were welcomed into our kitchen & my February tradition of orange freesias brightening up the studio (not to mention daily tea in an orange pot & mug!), I enjoyed an extra dose of my favorite color. And I found that it's an ideal choice for keeping spirits lifted through February's gray days...

I mentioned last month that I would try indenting the "Mondays," in order to help distinguish the weeks from one another, but I forgot as I was cutting the slits. March's Mondays, however, are indented (as you will see when I post them once the month is over).

A couple of things have surprised me about this daily practice so far. One is how much time, between the preparation & conclusion phases, the whole process actually takes; and it's easy to get distracted by all the papers each day! While some of the strips are quickly chosen & trimmed to size, sometimes I use multiple layers of paper or otherwise "customize" them. It has also highlighted for me how easily my mind skips ahead with new ideas; already I am plotting ways to adapt & build upon the daily strip/line concept. But it feels more important to stay with my original plan, and fortunately I am finding great satisfaction in what is beginning to seem like a fairly substantial accumulation of "story lines."



I hope that life is good in everyone's studios, kitchens, gardens, reading chairs, & other favorite places...

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