Archive for the ‘Art’ Category

What make nature beautiful are its little flaws: a wrinkled petal or crooked tree trunk. That’s why fashion models, with their perfectly symmetrical faces and a fully checked list of culturally agreed  beauty requirements, seem like plastic clothes hangers. Adding glimpses of personality would take attention away from clothing, I guess.

With little effort, my trusted Nikon SLR delivers perfectly lit, sharp and color balanced photos. Sometimes, almost too perfect. I found myself missing the grittiness of old photos. So, I went a little Snapseed crazy. Snapseed, just like Instagram or Hipstamatic, is an app that allows you to grittify images with just few clicks. Adding blur or vignettes transforms those perfectly composed images to something much more fun and interesting.

What is Snapseed?
Snapseed, originally an amateur cousin for the pro photo manipulation software from Nik Software, was purchased by Google in 2012. It used to be available as a Mac app, but if you want to use it now with your desktop system, you’ll have to go through Chrome browser, powered by the Native Client technology. It is currently available for iOS and Android mobile platforms for free and has more options compared to the original. However, this makes workflow a bit cumbersome because non-mobile photos have to be imported to your device. 
 

Some years ago, photographers went to great lenghts recreating a tilt shift look that you were only able to get with vintage large format cameras, special lenses or with a camera which is manipulated so that a life-sized location or subject looks like a miniature-scale model. Previously I have also used multiple Photoshop steps to achieve the same effect, but the picture above was done with Snapseeds’s tilt-shift filter. Colors were also saturated to make the town (Jerome, AZ) look more like a toy

 

Above, see the before and after images of a trailer and a cable car, I photographed in California. I have only ran these through Snapseed, no Photoshop used.

 

Snapseed does an especially good job adding vintage details; light leaks, paper wear and tear and film grain. I am fascinated with the old tableaus in the natural history museums. These displays of taxidermy animals can only be considered entertaining with a thick coating of irony. However, I make sure to photograph them when I see one. They’ll be most likely gone soon. Running these photos through Snapseed gives the photos depth and mystery.

 

I liked this old photo of my son already before the Snapseed treatment, but somehow a vignette, blur and B&W transformation brought his face alive.

 

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Thanksgiving and the recent uncovering of a bird’s nest in my garden made me think of a talisman I made almost 10 years ago. Talismans are objects which are believed to have magical powers. Unlike Amulets, which are for generic purpose, talismans bring good luck for a specific purpose. They also need to be charged with energy by a person who makes them.

Mine was a bird's nest made out of fine silver. I rolled each little twig out of precious metal clay and little by little formed a nest. It was then sintered in kiln which burned off the binding materials and after polishing, a tiny brilliant nest emerged. For eggs, I added two shiny oval shaped freshwater pearls. It could have been used as a pendant, but I just wanted to look and hold it.

At the time, we had already had several painful years of  trying to get  pregnant. It was probably on an unconscious level, that I made this symbolic nest in lieu of building a nest for a human baby. In any case, my thoughts were mostly (as they had been for ages) focused on the void in our lives. When I was concentrating on rolling out those tiny twigs,  I was charging each one of them with lots of hope. As it often happens, once you direct your energy somewhere else, the unimaginable happens. I got pregnant with our gorgeous son.

I got pre-occupied with my rounding belly and the hectic life in Manhattan. The little talisman was forgotten for years until we moved to suburbs and I learned that a dear friend of mine was struggling with the same issues I had. The cynic in me says it was our persistence, modern medicine and our skilled reproductive endocrinologist that deserve all the credit for the success. However,  I would like to live in a world where it’s ok to believe in magic, at least a little bit. So, I handed the bird's nest to my friend in a little box and told her the story about making it. Her son was born less than a year after that.

We decided that it would be great to create a pay-it-forward talisman. So, she gave the nest to her friend S who gave it to her friend K. So, far we have four silver nest babies, all boys by the way.

Oh, and what happened to the talisman next? S has it back on her bed side radiating hope, happy thoughts and energy for number two.

 

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Click the picture above to explore the wonderful otherworldly kinetic mind of Anthony Howe. "A Kinetic Mind" movie by Elizabeth Rudge

The refreshingly simple artist’s statement that is the headline for this blog entry comes from the amazing sculptor Anthony Howe. His mesmerizing kinetic sculptures are made of sheet metal. Somehow  the movement caused by the gentle wind makes them also really organic. Some resemble a flower opening from the bud, some are like an ever moving ocean floor. Some reflect the nature around them from dozens of tiny mirrors.

Howe builds the pieces using traditional metalworking techniques, but the elements are first  conceived with different CAD programs which command a laser cutter.

Mr. Howe worked first as a painter, but then got “bored with everything being static in my visual world”. I’m so glad for that boredom.

Here's a link to another  Anthony Howe interview.

 

Aaaahhh...spring - it never fails. Birds are back, daffodils are sprouting and every piece of furniture in my house looks tired. It's time to either redecorate or maybe buy a new house to decorate. Either case, I'm definitely drooling over  interior design magazines and blogs. Like everything, this too will pass and I'll settle into comforts of outdoor living during summer months and lazy hibernation beginning November. Every year, some items may carve a permanent tiny nest into my heart. The new flat pack furniture from Wintec and custom designed fair trade rugs from node definitely made a lasting impression.

Form and function in  flat pack beauties

STRATFLEX Skin – Single, two or three seater.

STRATFLEX Skin – Single, two or three seater.

While I think of flat pack furniture, I can't help but to think of a certain Swedish discount giant. Fortunately, Wintec has now diversified my thought process. These beauties from the new Skin line are made to be loved. I can see them easily fit into both traditional and modern homes.According to Wintec, they  are made from imported Finnish ply over a locally sourced and sustainable Saligna frame. The result a sculptural, organic and comfortable armchair. Finland has a long tradition in producing beautiful plywood which has, of course, been also used by such legends as Alvar Aalto in their designs.

Just add plywood

Traditional Methods - New Designs

 

Chris Haughton's Owl Rug

Chris Haughton's Owl Rug

Node aims to connect a worldwide network of designers and artists with traditional Nepalese carpet makers to create beautiful handmade rugs.Their rug makers, Kumbeshwar are a founder member of Fair Trade Nepal. Employees are taught literacy and skills. In addition to fair wages their work supports a school of 260 children and an orphanage of nineteen. Node's mission statement sounds idealistic, but the rugs are stunning and priced well.

Node produces their carpets entirely by hand using age old and natural Tibetan carpet making techniques. All their carpets are made from bales of pure Tibetan wool. It is hand spun into thread, hand dyed with natural and non-polluting dyes, and then hand-knotted on our looms into carpet. While the rugs have the traditional lustrous feel of a traditional wool rug, they look fresh and completely new, thanks to the great designers and illustrators, node is working with. More importantly, you can send in your won custom design which they will reproduce. So, watch out world, you may see some rugs designed by me soon.

 

Node carpets start with pure Tibetan wool.

Node carpets start with pure Tibetan wool.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The lightness and texture of these thread installations by Gabriel Dawe are just amazing.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

These artifacts are simply stunning and so inspiring!

From Their Graves, Ancient Nomads Speak - NYTimes.com.