29 February 2012 3 comments

A Miniatures Swap

Something old, something new, something created, something with blue...paraphrasing this famous saying provides an accurate description of my first swap experience.  It's been said before, but you gotta marvel at the power of the internet to bring strangers together.  The Flickr Modern Miniatures group begun by talented the Anna-Maria a.k.a. The Shopping Sherpa is very, very popular.  It has more than 9,000 members worldwide.  On the discussion board for this group, I answered an open-call from margaret_loves, to do a swap.  I must say to you veterans---pinchofpepper that includes you---who swap your talented mini-creations and post the spoils on your blogs,  please know that you've truly started something.  Margaret and I were both newbies, but we wanted in on the fun. So, we
  1. set a theme = blue
  2. set a budget = $10.00 
Even with this information, I still wasn't really quite sure what to do.  I went to Michael's and spent up my budget on a combination of finished items and a few raw materials read unfinished wood.  Truth be told, this really wasn't a lot of loot (and I guess I didn't expect it to be).  I knew I'd be undertaking more miniature DIY projects than I'd actually bothered to complete in quite a while.  So here's a look at some of what I sent in my package.

There is certainly an awesome feeling that comes after managing to get my large clumsy fingers to execute a tiny creation.  (Why is it so hard to turn the pillows right-side-out after stitching them up???)  I had some fabric remnants from a project. (I recovered an ice cream parlor style chair for my bedroom).  Such a small amount of fabric in 1:1 scale really goes a long way in the 1:12 world.
Thank Goodness!  The two pillows in the back were made from fabric samples, so the cost of that material really fit my budget--he he. I also learned that with one sheet of 9" x 12" felt you can create at least 4 rugs.  I created 1 round, 1runner, 1 square (see the photo below), and a set of carpet tiles (in the style of FLOR).  The carpet tile set was 3 by 3 tiles with each tile a 1.5" square.  Sorry I didn't bother to measure the other rugs.  I just eyballed them, my favorite technique, ha ha.

This scene took about 10 minutes to stage, if that.  I grabbed surface materials to set the floor and back wall.  This wall is siding from Miniatures.com.  The paintings are images clipped from the Paper Source catalog and mounted onto cardboard (recycled from doll packaging).  The wall cabinet is a pillbox resurfaced with contact paper.  I used seed beads for the door knobs.  The trash can is a popular eraser from a set sold at Michael's.  The television is a magnet that I picked up from who know's where.  Sorry, just one of those random finds.  The dried willow sits inside a very interesting bead also found at Michael's.  The TV and plant both sit atop the plastic box top in which moo.com mini-cards are shipped. The knapsack is a Barbie So In Style (little sister) accessory.  I made all of the books from scrapbook papers and fasteners.  I made the pillow on the floor from another fabric sample then stuffed it with more seed beads.  The bench was constructed from stock unfinished wood shapes also available from craft stores. I will try to do a detailed tutorial for this piece later.

The overall aesthetic of these pieces is contemporary but by the time Margaret gets them inside her Ikea Lekman box with her cube side tables and Reac Japan chairs, all will take on a more modern feel.  This swap was a certainly a challenge but it was also a great deal of fun. (Think Christmas in February).  So now I'm ready for the next one. Who's game to do a swap with me?
28 February 2012 5 comments

Looking for that Gnarly Wood (Part 2)

Recently, I professed to you all my love for the beauty of gnarly woods.  Now I'd like to share a few other reasons, I think live edge pieces work so well in modern design. 1) It's organic. This makes it a nice counterpoint to balance the cooler, modern surfaces like nickel, concrete and marble that so commonly define our living spaces. 2) It's sculptural. Wood definitely has form and texture and sometimes you've just gotta showcase it. 3)  It's massive scale.  Of course, not all live edge pieces are massive in scale but many of them are.  Such large scale furniture is common on the west coast but it's a newer concept for those of us east of the Mississippi.  Obviously, a massive scale works well in urban lofts.  I contend, however, that a carefully chosen piece could also work nicely in the room of a more conventional home.  This is especially the case since open floor plans are so common.
(Image Sources: 1, 3-www.liveedge.com; 2-www.prdminiatures.com)
I think the designers at West Elm might agree with me.  They are carrying in their current inventory a Raw Edge Collection that includes 2 styles of consoles, a coffee table and a side table ranging in price from $249.00 to $499.00 US dollars.  And they also have a brand new piece call a Live Edge Mirror. These options make the furniture scale and the price point for live edge furniture accessible to us all, eh?

(Image Source: westelm.com)

Fnally, the obvious solution to my dilemma (how do I get some gnarly wood into my design life?)---go 1:12!  Which, in some ways, I already have.  Paris of PRDMiniatures custom designed these lovely tables (as well as the calf-hair love seat) for me. 

(Image Source: Paris Renfroe)
But now I'm ready to go all out with something more like these designs. 
The inaugural pieces of  the Micro Collection (sold out) at the Etsy
store, OneFortyThree (Image source: onefortythree.com)
Live edge bench (sold) from PRDMiniatures (Image Source: Paris Renfroe)
So Paris and Logan this is my open letter to request that each of you, please make more.  Because I'm really lovin' that gnarly wood!
27 February 2012 1 comments

Looking for that Gnarly Wood (Part 1)

On a recent trip to San Francisco, while leisurely strolling in and out of shops on Valencia Street, I came upon the most unique studio of eyeglass frames.  My beau was on the hunt for some funky new glasses so we went in.  I proceeded through the space where I discover slabs and slabs of beautiful, beautiful wood!  
I so wish my photo did these slabs justice.  Sadly, it does not.
Then it struck me that I'd scene this style before...my mind registers Paris Renfroe and OneFortyThree.com.  I loved the tiny replicas that I discovered while doing the regular cruising of my favorite blogs.  Yet it wasn't until, I saw this wood 1:1 live and in-person that I soooo got it!  So back to this studio in San Francisco, Anthony Marschak, the founder of Original Timber was so very informative.  He identified species of wood or told me from where the slab was salvaged. In a delusional moment, I began to envision a custom piece in my home, when I was inturrupted by the reality of impossible shipping cost to the east coast and such.

I was so taken by the beauty of the furniture I saw and the use of this design style by miniature craftsmen I admire yet, I didn't even know what to call it.  After doing a bit of research, here's what I learned.  Furniture or accessories that incorporate the natural edge of wood, its burrs or knots or any other imperfections marks of character for that matter are known as Live Edge.  This style was first made famous by George Nakashima in a series he created for Knoll in 1946.  I think the use of this style as a design element has gradually gained in popularity as we as a society have attempted to become more ecologically responsible.  By using salvaged or gnarly woods from trees that have been responsible cut down due to thinning, we are preserving forests of perfectly healthy trees.  This in turn keeps we, the people and our planet perfectly health (but I digress so please forgive me).

The imperfections character can make the slabs delicate for woodworking and provide challenges to the carpenter to completing the necessary form for functional objects such as tables or benches.  But in the following photographs, I have found beautiful solutions demonstrating how craftsmen have done just that.

"Living Again" Bench designed by the late Michael Alexander
(Image Source: michaelalexanderdesigns.com)
A coffee table designed by Jeffery Greene (image source: jefferygreen.com)
A dining/conference table from Original Timber
(Image Source: www.originaltimber.com)
I realize that live edge design is not new but I do believe it has been experiencing a steady emergence in design since the turn of the century. Don't forget to check out Part 2 where I'll indulge my appreciation of this aesthetic just a bit more.
24 February 2012 0 comments

Don't Be Afraid of Snakes(kin)

Darien1 Booty (Image Source: Piperlime.com)
I adore these shoes! They are sculptural, sexy, and snakeskin, I mean python-embossed leather. I scooped up a pair of these Darien1 booties at Max Azaria in Georgetown after Christmas at a deep discount.  They are still available through Piperlime.com.  Although these funky beauties are a holdover from last season, it looks like this animal print will continue its popularity throughout the spring.
Kristin Wristlet (Image Source: Coach.com)
Over at Coach.com embossed python leather is featured on this new Kristin Wristlet as well as on many of their other handbags and accessories.  So my appreciation for and excitement over the current It fabric got me thinking, "Can you design a room around this item of clothing?". You remember, like they used to do in Domino Magazine.  (I'll still miss that magazine!)  Well of course you can!  And I did!  In miniature, of course.

I used this fabulous fabric (no animals were harmed in the design of this room---I promise) to upholster two walls in this room and I think they make a great backdrop for the bed. Full disclosure, this room came into being before I purchased my beloved pair of shoes. But that just lets you know that I've been an admirer of snakeskin, er uhm python-embossed leather for some time now.

Here are the details on the goods in this room: pink ant chair by Reac Japan; box spring, mattress and pillows are Kaleidoscope House furniture set; table, tansu step chest, and Marimekko mug by Rement; cell phone was an accessory that came with a mini Bratz doll; plaid teddy bear was a cell phone charm I picked up from a local store that specializes in Asian imports; and the framed photograph, pink neck rolls and Marimekko floorcloth are also custom made by me.

A Virtual Studio

I have always been captivated by aesthetics.  My constant attention to detail has led me to appreciate all that is pleasing to the senses. Pleasing to the hand, the nose, the palette palate, the ear, but especially pleasing to the eye.  I'm a flea-market fan, shoe addict and gallery geek. I'm an admirer of style and an avid patron of the arts---always collecting, editing and remixing.  Join me out and about in the city as I curate a gallery of all that inspires and in my studio as I craft, well perhaps---experiment. With this blog, I'll explore and catalog, if you will, mini many schools of beauty, art and taste into a virtual smashbook...a virtual studio...of Mini*Aesthetics.