Thoughts of Design Inspiration

green stoves


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Bringing Art to Life – Did Sibelius Have a Green Fireplace?

Green stove at Halonen artist residence in Finland

Green stove at Halonen artist residence – the door has a sow with a litter of eight – depicting the eight children.

I finally got around reading  a book my sister sent me for Christmas about Finnish artists and their homes (Bringing Art to Life, Otava).  The book is about the residences of Finnish turn-of the century artists –  such as Järnefelt, Sibelius, Cedercreutz, Halonen and Gallen-Kallela.  I now have new inspirations from these artists’ homes! The homes have some very interesting features and are now inspiring me with their colors, especially with their fireplaces.

I have been using the color green recently a lot in my jewelry and scarf creations, and Sibelius, for example,  had the most wonderful green fireplace. Cedercreutz even had a “green room” and he  talked about how he felt about the color green: ” I too have my longing for new dreams, a new future self”, and green “is the color of hope, green lies on every hand, and the tree of life spreads its boughs into the surrounding space.”  The green room in his residence is the library, with green sofa, chairs and table with green curtains and over three thousand books to read.

Sibelius's fireplace in Ainola

Sibelius’ green fireplace in his living room.

The green room at the Cedercreutz residence.

The green room at the Cedercreutz residence.

Sibelius wanted his stove to be green, because he associated the color green with the key F-major. It is an impressive looking stove, I bet it kept the living room warm and provided inspiration for the composer! It was also known that Sibelius enjoyed the garden –  he appreciated vegetables and enjoyed the smells and colors of flowerbeds and visualized the keys as different colors.

Sibelius and Gallen-Kallela were friends, the story goes that one night in Kalela (Gallen-Kallela’s residence) Sibelius wrote part of his second symphony. Was he maybe inspired by the green stove…?

Gallen-Kallela's green stove.

Gallen-Kallela’s green stove.

All images are from the book  Leena Lindqvist, Norman Ojanen, (2008) Bringing Art to Life, Turn-of-the-century Finnish Artists Homes. Keuruu, FinlandOtava.

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Color for winter blues


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When Dark Outside Inspire with Color

Purple lavender and yellow, some colors for 2014How can you get inspired when it’s dull, dark and cold outside and you see no color anywhere? We’ve gone from terribly cold snowstorm to pouring rain in two days! This is always my problem in the winter since I am totally a summer person and love color and nature when its the most active. What to do?  Luckily I got a bit “prepared” during the summer and took a lot of pictures of plants, flowers and other colorful lively things. You got to think of the season ahead when designing jewelry anyway, what are the colors for spring, what new combinations could I try?

The Pantone color for year 2014 is radiant orchid – a type of purple. We also have bright shades or blue, green, pink, all are colors I like. I have been making scarfs recently and attached is a sample of one I made – bright blue and green – those colors together are so fabulous! (see pic) I watch men’s tie fashions – for some reason I feel it’s a good indication on trends.  Even the football announcers have sported some great colors and patterns. There have been some good ones – minty checkerboards, blue green stripes, bright pink squares.  Inspiring!

blue ties, Kenneth Cole, Tommy Hilfiger for 2014 color trends

Going with Blue!

The combination of the bright light purple on the wall with the yellow lilies is striking and you can’t help it – it brings you to a cheery mood.  I am currently working on a green and white minty scarf, the combination is like a breath of fresh air. Color affects our moods and sometimes make us act a certain way (the best known is probably true red that can make people hostile and aggressive! But the darker red makes you eat and drink more, that’s why you see it often in restaurants.)

And yes, the blues “cool” you down, they provide restful sleep. Blue is known to be the most universally accepted color. No wonder the standard for so many things is blue.

Evadesigns Blue and Green Novelty Yarn Scarf

Evadesigns Blue and Green Scarf
See this on Etsy – https://www.etsy.com/listing/174612428/bright-blue-and-green-fashion-multiple?

I’m going to go back to my color experiments with scarfs. It’s  perfect activity for a dark winter day (and can also keep you warmer!) Hope these colors inspire you as well.

colorful neckties

Samples of colorful neckties – candy like checkerboard and powerful combination of orange and blue stripes

purple and lavender trends for 2014

Various shades of purple and lavender are included in 2014 color trends. (And also in creative containers!)


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Patina Mysteries on Copper

copper patina with salt

Blue patina on copper – the piece on the left is copper rescued from my computer’s fan that got replaced!

My previous attempts with creating patina on copper have been mostly using commercial methods, patina mix you can buy at the store (like liver of sulfur). ( I talked about this  in a previous post “Revisited Inspirations”.) I’ve been reading about various “home methods” and after some experimentation I think I have finally figured out how to get the results I want! I first tried burying the copper pieces in a mix of salt and ammonia. For days I’ve been changing the mix and gotten uneven results (a small part of the piece would get blue patina and rest would just darken).  I kept adding salt or adding ammonia thinking the ratio of the two is the key. I finally read about this method “fumigation” –  you suspend the pieces in a container, sprinkle the salt on and let the ammonia fume the pieces. The results are awesome, I’m getting the exact bright blue color I want ( and it doesn’t take four days!) You can get the patina more even as long as you sprinkle the salt evenly and then you can watch it change. (Yes, I’m standing around with a flash light pointed at the pieces to see every little detail that happens…)

copper metal patinated blue

Thick copper shapes hammered to “paddles” and patinated with the home made method.

I also tried a modified “bury method” where you moisten paper towels with the ammonia, place the pieces in between them and sprinkle the salt on the towels. You seal the container and check it every once in a while. That seemed to also work, you just can’t watch it all happen.

It seems that experimenting is the only way to get what you want, there is no exact formula if you’re using home made ingredients. But on the other hand, that ‘s the fun part of the whole process! You get surprises – good and bad – and learn at the same time. Now I just need to wait for the pieces to dry out completely and then seal them. I meant to use the round shapes in some of my riveting experiments, but I might not want to cover the beautiful patina now with another layer of metal. Back to making more copper shapes!


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Rope – Hemp and Macrame Inspirations

Worming, parceling, serving

Worming, parceling, serving

So, yes, there is the movie “Rope” by Alfred Hitchcock with James Stewart…but I’m not talking about that. I recently visited the Coast Guard ship Eagle while it was in New Hampshire (ship is 65 feet or more, so don’t call it a “boat” like I did!). She was built as a training vessel for the German Navy as SNF Horst Wessel and was awarded to the United States as reparations following WWII. Today it serves as a training vessel for cadets and officer candidates.

While on board of the Eagle I took notice of the usage of rope, it is used everywhere –  there are knots, rugs, pulleys, steps, mops! You have all heard of macrame, but did you know that rope is used to protect line using the methods of worming, parceling, and serving?  These terms sure sound interesting – I had no idea what they meant. I saw this little demonstration on the ship of how to use these methods with rope and got really interested. Yes, tar is used. And this whole approach is really practical. Here are the concepts:

The eagle flag staff

I believe this is the staff at the stern. It sure looks like a lot of tar was used on the rope.

Worming consists of following the lay of the line between the strands with tarred small stuff.  This keeps moisture from penetrating to the interior of the line and at the same time fills out the round of line, giving a smooth surface for the parceling and serving.

Parceling consists of wrapping the line spirally with long strips of canvas, following the lay of the line overlapping like the shingles on a roof, to shed moisture.

Serving consists of wrapping small stuff snugly over the parceling, each turn being hove as taut as possible so that the procedure makes a stiff protecting cover for the line.

With my jewelry work I have tried knotting hemp before, but now I really got interested in it. I found out that you can get it in all different colors and there are really so many techniques that can be used.  The standard macrame with combining beads is the one I started with (see picture).

Macrame tassel pendant

My attempt – it has macrame with small cat’s eye beads with a large aventurine and wood bead.

I ended up with a pretty nice little combination of beads and macrame that you can make into a tassel necklace.  This is definitely worth exploring, the options are limitless with how you can combine different materials. You can also learn other ways of knotting and end up with something like the blue one below that probably took at least 500 knots and many hours to make. Anyway, I now have the hemp in four colors in addition to the natural one and I can keep experimenting!

hemp-mote

Yes, it’s a hemp-mote…a remote made out of hemp…

micromacrameanklet

A macrame anklet – I like the colors and the knotting technique is really interesting.

micro macrame pendant

Micro macrame pendant with lots of knots!

Coast Guard Cutter Eagle

You could try climbing up these rope steps on the Coast Guard Cutter Eagle – while sailing!


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Birdhouse Parade

bird house blue

Blue bird house – gorgeous!

It’s the time of the year when the birds are doing nests and enjoying their little houses. You see them coming and going, with bits of dirt and grass, and happily working on their projects. Then, you see small eggs and small heads popping out of their homes. We have a second year bird resident, an eastern phoebe, who built her nest again under the roof of the steps. We have named her Toivo and hear and see her every day going about her usual bird life.

There are many crafters who have chosen to build bird houses and make them their primary craft.  Here in our small coastal town you see various stores selling handcrafted bird houses. Today, I also saw them used as a decorative design element on a shore house, in a way that I haven’t really seen them used before.  All these colorful little homes can get your inspiration going, what a lovely decorative element.  This could also make whimsical accessories, such as jewelry and pins. I was also thinking – how about a bird house belt buckle?

Colorful bird houses attached to a beach house

Colorful bird houses attached to a beach house

Enjoying the scenery on top of her bird house

Enjoying the scenery on top of her bird house

I’m not too familiar with this craft, but the results sure are interesting. There are plenty of different materials used and the color schemes can be quite remarkable. I was getting really inspired by these little homes since I kept seeing them on my bike ride along the coast. I then decided to stop at a little local gift store that carries a wide variety of bird houses. I was amazed at the artistry and variations!

Various wooden bird houses at a local gift store

Various wooden bird houses at a local gift store

After seeing all the materials, colors and small design elements involved in these bird houses it all evolves into new ideas forming for my crafting. I have been considering various concepts in my head of wooden decorative items, sort of three dimensional paintings.  It’s a bit similar to the small scale of bird houses and their decorative elements.  This is another opportunity for me to use the items I keep finding washed up on the beach – ropes, wood, lobster trap parts, and so on, and this seems like something worth exploring!

Such a nice display with tiny homes!

Such a nice display with tiny homes!

Bryn Athyn Cathedral


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Metalwork at Bryn Athyn Cathedral

Bryn Athyn Cathedral

Bryn Athyn Cathedral

Last week I visited our old hometown Philadelphia and ended up going to see The Cathedral – as we know it –  the grounds for several impressive Gothic and Romanesque style  buildings built between 1913- 1919 known as Bryn Athyn Cathedral.  When we lived here we used to go for pleasant walks on the grounds to enjoy the extensive flower plantings and to admire the architecture.

I had never really looked carefully at the metalwork that exists in the cathedral and was quite amazed how very interesting it is and then learned it uses some impressive techniques. I especially liked all the handles in the various doors that are made with monel metal. The animals depicted in these door handles have some type of biblical symbolism. So, what is monel metal? Monel is a natural alloy of nickel (67 percent) and copper (28 percent), with a small proportion of other metals. It is very tough, more difficult to work with than iron, and can be welded only using oxygen and acetylene. It will not rust, and will maintain a white, nickel-like beauty without being reflective. When hand beaten, its surface presents a pleasing texture of light and darker tones. While outdoors it develops a lovely patina of gray-green.

Bryn Athyn Cathedral Monel Door Handle

Bryn Athyn Cathedral Monel Door Handle

Bryn Athyn Cathedral Monel Door Handle

Bryn Athyn Cathedral Monel Door Handle

Bryn Athyn Cathedral Monel Door Handle

Bryn Athyn Cathedral Monel Door Handle

Bryn Athyn Cathedral Monel Door Handle

Bryn Athyn Cathedral Monel Door Handle

Throughout the Cathedral the locks and latches are also fashioned of monel. There is a collection of forty-seven handcrafted monel keys that open the locks!

Another interesting detail about the cathedral is that there are no right angles or straight lines – this  used to be common in medieval buildings.

The stair railings that you see in the picture are quite remarkable work of art. They have a lovely green patina and work so well together with the stones of the building.

Bryn Athyn Cathedral Spiral Stair Railing

Bryn Athyn Cathedral Spiral Stair Railing

Bryn Athyn Cathedral - Set of  Metal Doors

Bryn Athyn Cathedral – Set of Metal Doors

Bryn Athyn Cathedral - Set of  Metal Doors Copper

Bryn Athyn Cathedral – Set of Metal Doors

The stained glass windows of Bryn Athyn Cathedral were created using the medieval method—melting various pigment and metallic oxides into the glass itself and then having a glass blower create a disc of glass with varying degrees of thickness and brightness.

There is a set of doors that are made out of single sheets of hammered copper,  together with these monel handles they certainly demand attention!

I became interested in metalwork recently so I never actually paid attention to these marvelous details. This sure gives you an appreciation what a real metalsmith and craftsman can do!

As visitphilly describes it “This welcoming stone Cathedral, with Gothic archways, stained glass windows and carved woodwork, is the spiritual center of Bryn Athyn, a religious community with its own school system and museum. Symbolism connects theological doctrine to the Cathedral’s design, using elements of medieval simplicity and the American arts & crafts movement.”  If you wish to learn more about the Bryn Athyn Cathedral metalwork see: http://www.newchurchhistory.org/articles/cathedral/09themetalwork.php

Glass and Monel Metal Door at Bryn Athyn Cathedral

Glass and Monel Metal Door at Bryn Athyn Cathedral


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Blue Designs

Recently while browsing at a crafts bazaar my attention was caught by a beautiful blue stained glass piece hanging on a display. It had this wonderful clean flow and coloring and the shape instantly suggested to me “seaweed”. Now, the artist told me she thinks of her design as jelly fish or octopus, but that it’s really up to the viewer to decide. It reminded me of seaweed shapes I’ve admired on the beach and some of my own recent attempts trying to replicate those shapes.

Art glass by Dasken Designs

Art glass by Dasken Designs

This glass piece gave me instant inspiration, and I could’t get it off my mind. I ended up going back the next day and purchasing it. I began thinking of jewelry inspired by the design and interior design that it could live in. I ended up finding this website (houzz.com) where you can make ideabooks of home designs- furnished room designs, accessories, products and so on. I made an ideabook featuring blue rooms and products inspired by the blue in the glass decoration.

blue ideabook

Blue aqua ideabook that I created – see it at http://www.houzz.com/ideabooks/10126108/thumbs/blue-aqua

For me the best environment I would see this art glass octopus in would be something shore or cottage style with cool clean tones and airy feel, with ocean nearby.  The person living in this space would have an outfit that fits the theme. The blue rustic bead necklaces I’ve been working on recently would work well and I found pieces for an outfit that would also go with the necklace.

Blue outfit example with Eileen Fisher top, Tommy Hilfiger shoes, skirt by unknown designer and Evädesigns rustic shore wood necklace.

Blue outfit example with my rustic shore wood necklace.

Blue table - selection from Platt's Beach House Furnishings

Blue table – selection from Platt’s Beach House Furnishings
http://www.plattshomefurnishings.com

While looking at the photos for the ideabook I found this really awesome blue glass chandelier. It is definitely seaweed! The full picture is included in the ideabook.

Chandelier by Dale Chihuly

Chandelier by Dale Chihuly

I had to include some Finnish design in my picture, a painting for the wall by Simo Mantere (juuret – roots) and the forever timeless Kartio glasses on the table!

It is great how other forms of design can inspire you to create in our own medium.  It gives you a more complete view and understanding that can open up your mind for further exploring with your own work. It’s good to open up the curtains every once in a while and look outside!

Kartio glass by Kaj Franck

Kartio glass by Kaj Franck

"Juuret" by Simo Mantere

“Juuret” by Simo Mantere