BEASTS IN PRODUCTION

Whenever I am in Los Angeles for work, I always stop by my favorite thrift store, the Goodwill at Hollywood and Sunset, to peruse the sweater aisles. I have found the best sweaters there and so many beasts can thank this store for helping to bring them to life.

On my last trip I picked up these three. The patterned one in the middle looks like it had been shrunken, accidentally probably, and thus given away. And of course, I accidentally shrunk it again after I brought it home and washed it again. It's going to make a great medium sized beast pillow! And full disclosure: I may end up keeping and wearing the pink cardigan because the color is just so great. I can't decide. I often have this problem... I find some really great sweaters that I really have trouble cutting up.

Anyway, this is a long way of saying that new beasts are in production! I've been getting lots of emails and Etsy convos lately and I wanted to let y'all know that I'm working on it! I've closed the shop down until I get a chance to restock and will be reopening later this summer.

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AIRCRAFT BONEYARD

What I love about my job is that every project is so different. And the research often leads me to some very interesting places. Most recently the Aviation Warehouse in Adelanto, California.

We were looking for airplane parts to include in a display for an aviation-themed restaurant, a project I've been working on for a while.

While we were looking for smaller bits, like panel instruments, nose cones, propellers and such, I was really taken by the eerie shells of planes. Many of them crashed, many of them decommissioned.

I certainly have a thing for boneyards. Remember my trip to the Neon Museum in Las Vegas? For me, there is something so beautifully melancholy about the discarded, broken, and forgotten objects in our everyday lives that we memorialize by gathering them in one spot.

FLOATING FLOWER GARDEN

Wishing I could be walking through this Floating Flower Garden by teamLab.

It was an interactive experience where the suspended flowers and plants, through sensors, move upwards as you approach, and back down when you pass by, creating a personal flower envelope as you move through the space. First exhibited at the Miraikan National Museum of Emerging Science and Innovation in Tokyo, and then Maison et Object, last year.

Images by teamLab

Images by teamLab

I love this combination of digital technology and the natural world that we've been seeing in recent years with interactive installations. This reminds me of Rain Room a bit. What I love about these types of installations is that the digital technology presents itself through not-your-typical digital interfaces, but familiar and naturally occurring things (water, plants, etc.) and is fueled directly by our physical participation and sensory expectations... the surprise of a moving flower or plant, ushering you through space, or the surprise of not getting wet in the rain.

It also reminds me of an installation I saw in Paris almost 20 years ago. I tried to look it up online and I can't find a record of it, so now I'm starting to think I'm making this up, or at least have an exaggerated memory of what I think I saw and heard.

BUT if I remember this correctly, there was a temporary installation outside the Centre Pompidou, a forest of Christmas trees. It was December, so not a surprising sight. But as you talked through, the trees whispered to you: Merry Christmas in different languages, ever so softly. It completely took me by surprise and I stood there in the trees for a while.
Talking trees. It was magical.
Which is sort of what I think walking through the Floating Flower Garden must feel like. 

p.s. I'm really hoping someone can back me up on the existence of this Christmas tree installation and confirm that I was NOT hearing voices in my head back in 1997.

JOSEF FRANK

The New York Times arrives in our driveway every morning and I am guilty of either not reading it at all, or turning to a very select number of sections, namely the Food and Arts sections. I know... it's terrible.

But yesterday I didn't feel guilty at all and I was rewarded with loveliest of spreads about Josef Frank, Austrian architect and textile and furniture designer. I actually didn't know much about him, and given my architectural background and soft spot for the decorative arts, I'm kinda mad at my younger self for not having discovered his work sooner.

Textile: "Brazil", 1943–1945. © Svenskt Tenn, Stockholm, Sweden. Interior, Villa Beer, photograph by Stefan Oláh.

Textile: "Brazil", 1943–1945. © Svenskt Tenn, Stockholm, Sweden. Interior, Villa Beer, photograph by Stefan Oláh.

The article points to an extensive exhibition, Josef Frank: Against Design, currently at the MAK in Vienna. The curator, Sebastian Hackenschmidt describes Josef Frank as “one of the most underrated architects and designers of the 20th century. His work is impossible to categorize, as he refused to align with any of the design movements of the time, or to develop an identifiable style.”

Sofa, fabric covering "Celotocaulis", 1940s. © Svenskt Tenn, Stockholm, Sweden

Sofa, fabric covering "Celotocaulis", 1940s. © Svenskt Tenn, Stockholm, Sweden

Photography courtesy MAK / Aslan Kudrnofsky

Photography courtesy MAK / Aslan Kudrnofsky

The NY Times article continues: "His output was bafflingly eclectic, from Cubist-influenced houses to reinventions of Shaker chests and 18th-century English wooden chairs. Determined to use design as a means of enriching daily life, Frank created objects to last and focused on then-unfashionable qualities like comfort and ease in the hope that people would feel relaxed with his designs."

I am wishing I could teleport myself over to Vienna for this exhibit. Tout de suite! It looks like an beautiful and thoughtful installation. An article in Wallpaper further describes the exhibition:"In tribute to Frank’s own individual spatial planning strategy, 'The House as Path and Place', which was based on differentiated room levels and heights, open circulation spaces and galleries, a balcony will be installed in the MAK Exhibition Hall to allow the exhibition to be viewed from above and experienced three-dimensionally." It's nice to see a gallery space activated spatially like this.

Photography courtesy MAK / Aslan Kudrnofsky

Photography courtesy MAK / Aslan Kudrnofsky

Interior, Villa Beer, photograph by Stephan Huger. Textile: "Teheran", 1943–1945. © Svenskt Tenn, Stockholm, Sweden

Interior, Villa Beer, photograph by Stephan Huger. Textile: "Teheran", 1943–1945. © Svenskt Tenn, Stockholm, Sweden

The NY Times article ends on a rather depressing note about Frank's own feelings of career disappointment, but I feel so inspired by these wild bursts of colors and textures alongside these clean and quiet architectural spaces.  For me, it's a reminder that one's creative work can successfully oscillate between varying styles and tastes and time and place, and still represent a fantastic aesthetic wholeness.

And, of course, now I dream of reupholstering my couch.

EMBROIDERY LOVE

I found this embroidery gem at a vintage shop over the summer and could not put it down.

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What are these animals? A deer and tiger? Reindeer? Panther, leopard, cheetah? Why is it mirrored, but not symmetrical? Is the tiger attacking the deer, are those fangs? Or is it just jumping in for a friendly 'ta da!'... ? I think it's the latter.
Who made it?! Is it a practice piece? A finished piece? I have so many questions. I could stare at it for ages. It's one of the most delightful and more odd things I've found.

You know how things start to catch you eye, and you think, oh that's nice, and then they crop up with more frequency, and you start to pay a little more attention, and then BLAM! it's everywhere you look? This is how I feel about embroidery.

Maybe it's because I'm obsessed with this deer-tiger piece that I'm just now really paying attention to embroidery, but in any case, I'm totally hooked.

I found Sarah K. Benning's work a couple of months ago.

And a friend recently shared the work of Lisa Smirnova...

I can't remember how I stumbled across the work of Liz Payne, but oh my!

And of course there are SO many more amazing embroidery artists; I am just now beginning to skim the surface. It's very inspiring. And it's probably good that I don't have any extra time to take on a new hobby. Or do I???

CHEERS!

And what a year it's been! Our move from Los Angeles to rural Texas has been pretty darn amazing, an eye-opener. Here's a little recap:

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This is one of our fantastically humongous longhorn neighbors. When they come around our house I run outside and talk to them and they are totally unimpressed. But when Mr. D mows the yard, they come running. His secret? He dumps the fresh grass clippings over the fence as a treat. They are awesome animals. I cannot get over these horns.

1. Mr. D's homemade snake-shooting target. We have a bit of a snake problem, mostly copperhead. And now we have a shot gun. I was vehemently opposed to having a gun in the house but living out in the country, I reluctantly have learned, brings with it some critter issues. For us it's venomous snakes. I did not think one could actually shoot a snake (aren't they too thin and slithery and fast?) but one can with a shot gun. Texas lesson number 1.
2. Chief: our kitten who thinks he’s a dog. And a human. And super cat.
 3. Our view east and that big Texas sky.
4. Writing Spider, almost as large as the outlet! Be thankful that I'm not sharing a photo of the Rabid Wolf Spider. You're welcome. Click on the link at your own risk.
5. Friends from LA came for Thanksgiving. Our place is tiny so it took some figuring out, but we did it! Mr. D built a big table so that we could have our Thanksgiving feast out on the porch.
Pic by A. Boeck

1. The big transition from CA to TX plates. Soon after this, I drove back to California for work. I have to admit that it was a bit strange been from 'out of state.'
2. Yard work on half an acre is a lot of yard work. After 16 years of apartment living, this is a good shock to the system.
3. Mammatus clouds after the tragic Memorial Day floods. Never have I seen torrential rain like this storm produced, nor clouds like this. Welcome to Central Texas weather. This year I also got acquainted with tornado warnings. Apparently, I traded in California earthquakes for Texas storms, which are no joke. Texas lesson number 2.
4. Lots of outdoor cooking on the firepit we built by hand! We cook on pecan wood from my in-law's property and post oak wood from our landlord, who is also our neighbor. There's nothing like cooking on an open flame and sitting around a fire. We've spent countless hours watching the sunset, debating the doneness of meat (he is the medium-rare type, I am unapologetically a well-done kind of gal), and contemplating what to put on the grill next. And we constantly smell like campfire.
5. Fearless, we miss you!! RIP.

1. Patches: gopher and mouse hunter extraordinaire. And snake bite survivor!!
2. Farmhouse selfie. I absolutely love this tiny shack of a house.
3. Accidental bumper crop of butternut squash that originated in the compost pile.
4. Mr. D built a hoop house for our vegetable garden. We had mixed success with growing and harvesting, and we're considering this first year to be an experiment. We'll be heading into the spring planting season with a little bit more knowledge and experience.
5. 1,500 miles and 3 days later. Our trek from Los Angeles to Smithville, TX!

And with that, see you in the next year!