Thursday, 22 April 2010

pretty paper pt. 1

There are a lot of arts and crafts forms I'd like to learn to master some day, or at least try them out with some professional guidance. Chinese paper cutting is definitely one of those I'd like to learn more than others, but I suspect it's something that takes years and years of practice, with an endless amount of patience and precision. The two latter I've got sometimes, but not often enough nowadays it seems. I like doing at least two things at the same time in order not to get too restless, unless I'm too tired to do much of anything at all but watch tv or dvd's.

Chinese paper cutting however, I'm willing to make a wholehearted and focused attempt should I find a teacher who didn't think I was hopeless to begin with. But where does one find that kind of teacher outside of China? There are art classes in Stockholm for Chinese calligraphy (I took a weekend class once and completely loved it!) and Chinese brush painting, that I know of. Guess I should look into those to begin with, maybe their teachers would know of some paper master happening to live in Stockholm.

One of the best gifts I ever got was from my sister-in-law's visit to Bejing a few years ago, when she got me this big stack of a variety of beautiful paper cuts that I just love going through every once in a while, admiring the incredible handiwork of them. I do hope I get to visit China some day, but I fear I will go slightly mad going to one of these markets I've heard people describe, simply cos I'm gonna want to buy EVERYTHING!

When I went to dinner some months ago, I overheard three guys in their late 20's, early 30's, sitting at the table next to ours. I wasn't eavesdropping or anything, they were just loud talkers and after hearing this one thing, well, I'll admit after that I guess I was eavesdropping to find out the rest. One of the guys, who looked quite ordinary, they all did in fact, and at least one of them I'm pretty sure was a lawyer, anyway: the one guy suddenly told the others that he was moving to China in 6 months to be trained as a Chinese sword master for at least 2 years.

I was as surprised as his friends to hear that, and I had to bite my tongue in order not to ask him questions about it myself! There's not really that much more to say about it, I just got a bit inspired by his announcement, thinking that it's really cool that some people do follow their dreams, even if they are a bit out there, and may not have the most immediate future success in hand, but they do it just the same cos of some kind of inner drive that I admire a lot.

On the other hand, I guess I have done more than most, following my heart all the way to the other side of the world already. Learning to master some Chinese paper cutting on top of that would just be a nice bonus I guess.

Saturday, 17 April 2010

pretty little things

Today we've been around some of Glenwood's finest, starting with breakfast at Corner Café. I was a little disappointed to find that the clothes and jewellery store in the back wasn't there anymore, it's now an art gallery. Does anyone know if it's moved, or just disappeared? They had such nice dresses from Soulskin and lovely jewellery that I had planned to come home with. Anyways, instead we headed over to this other jewellery store I really like, on Bulwer (where the organic herb shop is), and where I've bought some really nice things in the past. After some browsing I decided on the above silver flower earrings, I thought they were just perfect! I like that you get them in a little cute bag too, I always save those.

After driving by the for me new shop Mooi (although apparently it's been there for about a year), a couple of weeks ago, I've wanted to visit it. Meanwhile I've also found their blog and facebook site, and seeing quite a few pics of what they've got in store made me even more eager to go. Unfortunately I was in a bit of an undecisive mood today, and even though I tried on four very pretty dresses, in the end I couldn't decide on either one! That's pretty rare being me, a dress'o'maniac. But I'm also a bit sensible not buying things just for the sake of buying something. Well mostly, anyhow. I didn't want to leave without anything though, so I got this lovely ceramics brooch, made by Token. There were plenty to choose from, I almost felt like I could close my eyes and just pick one, but I was more in a flower mood than anything else today.

And since finding Cupcake Couture's blog the other week, thereby finding Mooi online too, I just had to buy one of her adorable measure tape brooches too. I got a pretty pink one with a little bird, I just love it!

A few weeks ago I also got this little cutie at Exclusive Books at the Pavillion. That was also a nightmare to try and decide which one I wanted the most, cos there's a whole range of different colours, and sizes, and dresses, and hairdo's and whatnot. In the end I just got the smallest one, as a starter to what might grow into a collection ... This one looks a little bit like me, although I as of yet don't own a real kimono, something I need to take care of in the future for sure. That Exclusive Books store has got some really nice gift stuff, besides a very nice range of books too of course. I can highly recommend it, although it's a little on the expensive side.

Now it's time to eat the fresh raspberries we got at Woolworth's, with some whipped cream – delish!

Wednesday, 14 April 2010

some calligraphy covers of mine

Since I have put calligraphy as one of the main topics for this blog I thought it was about time I actually did a piece about it, so here goes:

Being a huge fan of calligraphy since my early teens, when a fantastic art teacher introduced it to me, I've been fortunate enough to do a few commercial assignments. Being asked to do cover lettering for Pillow Book by Peter Greenaway has been the most honourable job yet: simpy cos that movie IS calligraphy. It's visually the most beautifully stunning amazing movie ever! In this case I made most of the text for the back- and insides as well, but for Draughtman's Contract, below, it's just the title that's mine. I really like the font for the other text though, so I don't mind.

These dvd covers are from Atlantic Film, a Swedish movie distributor nowadays well known for their beautiful design of covers, as well as doing a lot of excellent classic and art movies. The art direction of these particular covers is made by my older brother, a very talented designer indeed.

This cover is for sure the most widely spread anything I've ever done, with around 150.000 copies hardback, and 30.000 paperback sold in Sweden (have no idea what it's sold in Norway, where they used the same cover). I do work for the publisher, but it was the designer Niklas Lindblad who asked if I wanted to try something since we had a hard time agreeing on a font that would work. With Niklas' genius mind I think it turned out wonderfully, so striking and unusual for a thriller. A little side story: when the book came out, I got another very fun assignment to design a window display in a book store downtown Stockholm. I volunteered cos I've got so much of Chinese things around the house! So I used mainly my own things, and got a few other small things, and it all turned out so well the store kept it for about 2 months instead of the agreed 2 weeks.

These covers are for the two first books in Jasper Fforde's series about Thursday Next, hilarious sort of literary detective stories, with a lot of twists and winks to literary history. My very talented friend Simon Stålenhag did the great art work for them, and I like them a lot.

Tuesday, 13 April 2010

an occasion for every dress

One of the reasons I have to justify my somewhat excessive dress shopping, is that I actually wear most of them on a quite regular basis, according to season and occasion. When it comes to the latter I firmly believe in making the occasion should it not present itself though. For example it's quite nice to get dolled up in a dress I'm in the mood for with matching shoes and jewellery on the weekend, even if I'm just going to do grocery shopping or having a laundry day. You might get the raised eyebrow or lingering look sometimes, but mostly I've learned to ignore that. And of course in my neighbourhood in Stockholm, I'm hardly the only one. There are plenty of stylish girls with excellent taste in clothes. Well boys too I suppose, but I prefer to look at dresses!

This gorgeous Hawaiian 60's cotton dress is one exception to the collection of dresses I've worn a lot: so far it's only been worn once actually, to a big family party quite soon after I bought it in the summer of 2007. There's also one other rather peculiar thing about it: it's one of surprisingly few items I've ever bought from Beyond Retro in Stockholm. I think the thing with that store and me is that I get completely overwhelmed every time I go there, there's just too much of lovely things! It's also usually quite busy, and I just get a bit stressed by the whole thing, to my regret I must add, cos I love the place. I guess I just need to practice a bit, find the odd hour when it might be less crowded, and have more time than usual to browse properly.

Now they're about to open yet another shop though, which is slightly closer to my work place in Stockholm, so I might spend some lunch hours there when I get back. But back to this particular dress, that I fell in love with and only paid 100 kronor for. It was maxi length, but I decided to shorten it to make it look less like a tent. With some of the leftover fabric I made a matching headband. I've really tried to find or make another occasion to wear it again, but it is a bit overwhelming, just like the store I found it in. I wanted to wear it to a wedding last year, but got persuaded not to in the end, simply getting the question if I wanted to steal the bride's attention. Which I didn't of course. I'm quite happy I listened to the advice too, cos it turned out to be a very casual small ceremony.

This little cutie I have worn quite a few times, and I bought it at one of Street's vintage markets, that sadly won't be happening anymore. I always really liked them, even though some of the stalls got a bit expensive the last few times. Friends who went to the vintage fair at Strand a few weeks ago were all a bit disappointed, but maybe they need a few more tries before they get it right. The fair I mean, not my friends. The dress is polyester and my guess it's 60's or possibly early 70's. It wasn't so much the cut or style of it, which is quite simple, but the adorable and unusual pattern that made me want it. I still like just looking at it! I got it for 150 kronor I think, after some almost involuntary haggling, which I have rarely done ever in my life. It had a loose hem though, on one of the red bands at the bottom, so the red band was almost coming off, which I just mentioned to the seller, who knocked off 100 kronor straight away.

Just look at it! Super cute indeed. Now tell me when's not the occasion for wearing a cute dress?

Sunday, 11 April 2010

the taste of yesteryear

There's a local brewery here that makes really nice bottles of soda, Frankie's, Olde Soft Drink Co. Their tagline is "The taste of yesteryear" and it comes in the following flavours: Old Style Root Beer, Cloudy Lemonade, Original Cream Soda, Homemade Ginger Beer, and Cinnamon Cola (that unfortunately wasn't available in the store where we found these). I usually only drink soda when there's nothing else to choose from, but especially this lemonade is really delicious and the other one's I drink with my eyes.

Howdy sailor. I've never tried cream soda before, so this will be a first.

This ginger haired girl has a slightly wobbly looking head, but she's pretty just the same. I really want to like ginger beer, cos I love ginger, and one of the few soda's I do actually like is ginger ale, but every time I've tried it I don't. And for those of you that are unfamiliar with root or ginger beer, it does not resemble regular beer whatsoever.

I'd really like a bikini like this, but preferably red with white polkadots. I have seen some online, in retro shops, but they're usually quite expensive and since I use a bikini maybe 1-5 times a year it doesn't really adjust that kind of investment in my opinion.

I don't really know why, but this girl is my favorite of the bunch. Guess I have a thing for baseball clothing or something.

Now what's left to do is put them in the fridge, wait for them to cool, and have a tasting later tonight, with some delicious leftovers from the braai we went to last night.

Wednesday, 7 April 2010

this is why i love carson ellis

For all of the above reasons, which are just a handful of so much more, and the fact that she is:

1. Married to Colin Meloy of The Decemberists
2. Sister-in-law to the great writer Maile Meloy

I love Carson Ellis! What a family! Not that mine is too shabby, but that's a whole other post all together ...

Tuesday, 6 April 2010

pin me down

As so many others I'm a bit obsessed with Joan Holloway from Mad Men, since the first episode I've been in love with her amazing style and curves. I think that partly has had something to do with the fact that last fall, after watching the first season a second time and the second one for the first time, I found myself getting a bit obsessed with brooches, that she frequently wears. I had a few already, but felt I needed more to spruce up my 60's dresses and resemble the lovely Joan more. Most of all I'd love to get my hands on that amazing pen necklace of hers though! If anyone sees a replica somewhere, pretty please let me know? Anyway, during my Saturday shopping at Euphoria where I bought the cute Chinese dress from the last post, I also found this adorable antique silver brooch. Like I've mentioned before, I've got a weak spot for leaf design for some reason, and I also really like the look of oxidized silver, when it gets almost black. I have no idea what era it's from, but if I had to take a wild guess I'd say 30's or 40's.

This pretty little thing is quite similar in it's shape, and was a great find in an antique shop were we spent at least an hour during a short road trip down the South Coast August last. The shop was in Ramsgate, just up the road from this very nice place where we had lunch. I can really recommend it, there were so much of stuff to look at, from all eras but I'd say mainly the first four decades of the 1900's. The prices were really varied, but this brooch was just R60, and I do believe it's real silver so that's a bargain in my eyes, even if it's got a few missing turquiose stones. I also got a tiny guitar shaped silver pin for R5, it's so cute.

I like how they look together, although I most likely will only wear one at the time! Some day I will also tell you about a brooches paradise I've been to, on another south coast, way up north.

Monday, 5 April 2010

easter goodies

It's been a quiet and calm easter weekend here in the tropics, I had an omelette on Friday and scrambled eggs on Saturday, that's about it for "easter food". I would've liked some smoked salmon and pickled herring, but it's not really available here. Well, the salmon is, but being flown in from Norway doesn't really make any sense when you've got plenty of fish right in the Indian Ocean. Speaking of the ocean, on Saturday we went to the city to meet a friend for breakfast at NSA Gallery. I was excited about going back to their gift store, but was actually a bit disappointed this time. Or maybe it's just that I've already bought all the good stuff?!? Could be, could be. I got a few gifts for others at least, and then we were off to another old favorite around the corner on Davenport Rd: Euphoria. Which is actually four stores in one, and a coffee shop. One's got vintage men's jackets, one's got local design clothes and jewellery, one's got mostly imported Indian and Chinese clothes, and the last one is a second hand book store, with a pretty good selection. It's a little bit chaotic, but with very good find potential and I don't really mind in these small places as well, it's part of the charm I think. I knew as soon as a saw just a corner of the dress above, that I wanted it!

It's Chinese, with peonies and cherry blossoms in reds and turquoise and pink, on black and white, all of my favorite colors! But it's also got starfish, shells and seaweed! Who could resist that? Probably many people, but not me for sure. A perfect fit, in the softest cotton which is perfect for this climate, and a mere 150 rand (about the same in kronor). Done deal!

It's probably one of the more colourful and busy printed dresses I've got, but I love it! And it reminds me a little of the 60's Hawaiian print sun dresses that are so cute. I'd like to put this on, go to a pool party and sip mojitos all night.

On Friday another pretty dress got to come home with me, this one from a store that I probably wouldn't have gone into just based on the name and sign of the store, but I've actually managed to find some really good things every time I go there. Persistence friends, persistence will prevail! Or rather, not judging a book by it's cover I guess would be more accurate in this case. Anyways, the store is The Hub, and can be found in all major malls around here. As with all big department stores, you need to be patient and thorough when trying to find the goodies. This dress was "hidden" in the last corner I went to, having almost decided that I'd leave without anything this time, cos even if I'd spotted a few nice things, I wanted something more than nice that day. And there it was!

The colours, the leaf print that also looks like clouds, the cut, the perfect fit, the supersoft cotton. It simply ticked all the boxes for me. 170 rand was the damage, not too bad at all. And getting home, putting it on, I realized I already had not only a perfectly matching pair of earrings, but also a perfectly matching bracelet! Perfectly pretty indeed.

Thursday, 1 April 2010

dream dresses from folksy

Not that I'm running out of my own dresses to show, but today a friend recommended the Folksy site and I found these beauties I'm dreaming about now. This gorgeous red one can be found here. Not exactly cheap, but it will be custom made to your measurements, and each dress comes with a different vintage doily collar, very much to my liking.

This cutie is from the same store, find it here. I'm not a big fan of yellow, mainly cos it never looks good on me, but for this I would consider making an exception. I love geometrical patterns such as this, so typical for the 50's.

Finally a delicious cherry dress found here. Don't you just want to eat it?! Since the mail is somewhat unreliable here, I think I will wait until I get back to Sweden should I decide to order either one of them. But this weekend will hopefully bring some nice local shopping here in Durban, as I'm going to some of my fave stores. I might even go to the beach!