Winter Florals

Freshly picked, dried flowers.

I never have to change the water.

On my hike yesterday, I picked up some winter flowers from the forest and field. I didn't expect to find such a variety of dried plants.

Entering the forest and coming out with a bouquet

Plots of farmland nearby had dried beans

My favorite plants had black leaves that looked as if they survived a fire. The softer straw colored plants made the bouquet look warmer. Although it seemed that the land was clear and nothing was alive, there's still so much going on in the winter field and forest.

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Seeing Things

Tips on keeping life simple.

Just carbs and protein, nothing more

"Stoicism is a philosophy that is guided by the idea that people want to live well, to have…‘a smooth flow of life’" - John Sellars in Hard Truths and Happiness

I’m always up for 'a smooth flow of life' so I found myself drawn to the stoic ideas in Hard Truths and Happiness. Author John Sellars uses excerpts from Meditations by Marcus Aurelius to explain the philosophy.

"When you have savouries and fine dishes set before you, you will gain an idea of their nature if you tell yourself that this is the corpse of a fish, and that a corpse of a bird or a pig; or again, that fine Falernian wine is merely grape-juice…" (Meditations 6.13)"

Ingredients before they get 'glamorized' and turned into food

"see them as they truly are…. where things seem most worthy of your approval, lay them naked, and see how cheap they are, and strip them of the pretences of which they are so vain. (ibid.)"

I’d love to. But before I can see the situation, my emotions, opinions grab control over me. The comfort is in knowing that all my problems stem from the 'opinion'.

‘the cosmos is in continual change; the concerns of human life are the product of opinion’ (Meditations 4.3.4)

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A Winter Field

Weekend activities

Taken from a walk in the field yesterday, in color, it looked like a painting

This weekend, I checked out antiques, particularly early 20th century decanters and Timo Sarpaneva glassware. Also binge watched Medici: Masters of Florence, a new tv show full of interior and fashion from the Italian Renaissance.

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Instamania

Behind the scenes with an Instagram 'influencer'.

A photo posted by tforia (@tforia) on

A #chasing_facades kind of post

Instagram is my new Pinterest. I’m finding plenty of new artists and designers I haven’t heard about. As I’m spending more time there, I’ve come to realize that my favorite accounts are ones with no more than 300 followers.

It’s so easy to get into the rat race of acquiring more followers. But I’m proud of my selective taste and I like connecting with those who share my style. It reinforces the idea that I am special in the world—I see things differently. Perhaps I’m attached to being 'exclusive'?

"For $10 every 30 days, Instagress would zip around the service on my behalf, liking and commenting on any post that contained hashtags I specified."

Today I read the article on the Bloomberg reporter who methodically becomes an Instagram influencer. All it takes is $2000 of stock photos on coffee and food, subscriptions to bots that will like and comment on your behalf, lots of new clothing, lots of grooming and buying of followers.

It’s definitely not glamorous and includes a ton of grunt work. But the perception is that influencers are glamorous and their images are ’snapshots’ of their wonderful lives, carefree with not an ounce of grunt work.

Prestige could be a gratifying form of payment. I was surprised when I discovered how gratifying free food at work can be. I felt professionally accomplished, as if I were getting paid a lot for my work, as if I were one of the senior executives. Maybe this feeling came from the high I was getting from the food. Unfortunately it wore off after six months.

Perhaps influencers feed on prestige in the same way in order to pull through the grunt work. Which is fine.

"Most committed influencers, including Socialyte’s clients, use bots in one way or another"

But who is liking the photos? The bots? There might be a cheaper, less hard way to attain the perception of prestige.

Maybe that’s why the accounts I like have under 300 followers. With no hashtags, bots have no way of promoting the images. They're original photos taken by photographers who aren't playing the same game.

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Nicola Fasano

Not just any traditional ceramics.

Fasano Ceramiche photo bia fasanocnf.it.

I’m a huge fan of crockery from every region in the world. Cooking in clay or any traditional form of cookware, like cast iron, makes preparing food into an epic experience. Although cooking can easily become a chore, with the variety of traditional cookware, shapes, colors and sizes, it becomes an entertaining part of the day.

The items I cook with include a crock pot (not so romantic but made from clay), a tagine, and several Spanish clay pots. I bought my clay cookware at a chain homes store. Unfortunately, there are no markings indicating specifics on where they were made.

Enza Fasano, the grand-daughter of Nicola Fasano designs more contemporary ceramics. Photo via archiproducts.com.

I’ve been on the lookout for traditional ceramics, much like the colorful ceramics that are found in Italy. Ceramiche Nicola Fasano is a multi-generation ceramic company that’s made a huge variety of gaudy, traditional crockery and tableware along with simpler versions for modern preferences. Some ceramics are more interesting than others, but amongst the assortment, I found plenty of bright and unusual ceramics that I’d welcome into my kitchen.

Nicola Fasano factory, photo by @mercishopparis.

The Conran Shop has a huge selection of Nicola Fasano’s more contemporary pieces, including a squiggly lined terracotta cup and saucer. There are plenty of ceramics on ebay, and none of them are the same. It’s rare that a manufacturer has such a large variety that the items become unique.

Fasano Ceramiche photo via fasanocnf.it.

From photos and guides, Southern Italy is full of shops selling ceramics. There’re so much traditional crockery painted with regional emblems, but of all the ones I’ve seen, I’m drawn to the designs available at Nicola Fasano. Perhaps my favorites may not be as traditional, but the construction is the tradition that remains.

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Natural Deodorant

Natural remedies

Himalayan Salt Crystal, a natural deodorant that actually works!

I’ve been wondering why fragrance free products are becoming popular just now. Maybe it has to do with Jessica Alba and how she’s been promoting her fragrance free products through her Honest Company. There isn’t such a culture of 'fragrance free' in Germany yet. All natural beauty and home products have fragrance in them.

About a year ago, I came across natural deodorant. Someone told me it didn’t work that well so I didn’t end up buying it. This week, I happened across a similar concept in a shop nearby. My new deodorant is a Himalayan salt crystal.

I tried it out after showering—you’re suppose to apply when wet. I had body odor but it was gone in five minutes. My husband tried it as well and it works on a guy.

Also, it’s so pretty to look at and touch. I hope to find more products that are naturally occurring, as if I just plucked it from the earth.

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Chandelier Prototype Two

Accidental design.

Developing a chandelier that acts more like a frame of my environment than a light.

I finished my second chandelier prototype and realized the first was better. In the first prototype, one axis of strands draped down in a way that was prettier. This unintentional design was a result of eyeballing the side lengths. Although I used a ruler to measure the strands on my second prototype, I like the 'accident' more.

Prototype two has no curves, strands are straight. I prefer the first with the strands curved.

Next steps are to consider scale and the number of strands I’d like. Maybe 8 symmetrical strands? It took a lot of work to make the two versions with four strands each. I’m losing momentum the more work I forsee.

Maybe I’ll come across a good idea from looking at chandelier examples, but I’ll need some time to figure out what I’ll do next. Although it’s hard to have patience, I know I have to in order not to end up with something I don’t want. In the past, I’ve rushed to complete projects in the spirit of 'not being lazy' but I don’t want to make something that I won’t appreciate.

It’s interesting to observe how the process is related to how much appreciation I’ll have. If it is such a good concept, then I’ll have patience. If not, c’est la vie.

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Ruth Gurvich

Delicate 'paper' you can eat out of.

Looks as if you could take any old sheet of paper and sculpt into this...if only I had the skills. Photo by Jérôme Galland.

I’m starting to believe that architects make better artists than 'artists'. On Nowness, there’s a video series featuring the homes of hip creatives. These are people who seem to scream "Hey everyone! I am an artist." Maybe it’s the nature of being a pop culture celebrity. I’m sure what they do is extraordinary, from fashion design to song writing, but their homes all look the same.

On the other hand, there’s a series called "In Residence", featuring homes of architects and prominent artists and designers. Rather than showing how 'quirky' their personalities are, the works resoundingly shows how original these professionals are.

Ricardo Bofill wears a suit in his video, looks like a respectable guy. One walk through his home and you’ll see how out of the box insane he is. Ian Simpson has a completely different style. The order and precision throughout his home seems to emphasize the things that are not orderly and precise: the trees, plants and lighting from the sky. In each of these videos, the style of the creative permeates through every item, from tables to utensils, beyond just walls and windows.

"For me, it all starts with the shape. I start completely from scratch. Then I make a construction plan, just like a designer designing a chair or an architect drawing a house. This was something I had to learn; my first pieces using paper were very clumsy. The difficulty lies in constructing exactly the right shape." - Ruth Gurvich; Photo and quote via nymphenburg.com

Perhaps that’s why I am drawn to the work of Ruth Gurvich. Initially, Ruth studied architecture than she switched to art. Architecture seems to emphasize a physical understanding of materials more than art. If I were to study architecture, there would be more physics classes than if I studied art. How something lasts, wears over time, looks in a particular space—those are considerations beyond the controlled vacuum of a gallery.

"She established a reputation with her three-dimensional works made of paper, which pursue a delicate, wholly distinctive aesthetic. In her designs, she cannily makes the most of the materiality of paper – as a working material, it enables her to introduce light, movement and vitality into things." Photo and excerpt via nymphenburg.com

From Ruth’s porcelain works, anyone can see how much she understands the physical qualities of paper. Enough to create it from an entirely different material.

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Date by Scent

Follow the nose to follow the heart?

A cozy pair: windows I found canoodling in Rome

Online dating app ideas are fun to come up with. Today, I came across a headline: "Date Perfumes before Marrying Them." Could it be? A site where you date by scent? I know I would’ve selected my husband if we dated this way. Next to the headline was a photo of several colored sticks, as if each stick represented a person’s scent.

But no, it was just a perfume company that allowed you to try on perfumes before buying them. I think the only perfumes I would consider this for are the perfumes that cost so much (~$300 a bottle) rather than the $60 ones at Sephora. But in these shops, each bottle is like an ingredient you can mix and match.

I don’t much knowledge about fragrances but I know that the one time I visited Bloom, a niche perfumery in London, I was blown away. I tried several versions each of linen, fig and tobacco. My head felt tingly in places where I never felt anything. Perhaps certain scent receptors had finally been activated.

"niche is the antithesis of 'designer' perfumes that employ clever marketing techniques…"
"mass produced perfumes are engineered to smell good on paper blotters…"
"manufacturers are well aware that in shopping environments products only get one spray to make a first impression, these perfumes are not designed to last on the skin"
"customers chase that initial burst of addictive freshness"
"these scents are often made with basic synthetic materials"

I’m interested in exploring scents a bit more, it’s definitely fun to smell things I normally don’t. And I’d like to get that tingly feeling in my head (I hold some belief that it’s healthy to activate sense receptors that are dormant). There are a few sample packs on Bloom that I’m looking to try, including ’Roots and Shoots’ the Ambroxan Pack.

"Embers is a dark and resinous fragrance that utilizes a sweet and balmy pink pepper note perfectly."

"Ambroxan is an isolated ingredient that perfumers often refer to as a wonder molecule. It’s a natural ingredient that comes from clary sage…"

"We’ve included a 1% solution of pure ambroxan in your pack to help you identify the molecule’s wholly unique and projective properties."

At 10 GBP, it seems like a promising activity.

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Chandelier Prototype One

Kinks that need to be ironed out.

Right after assembling, before painting

I roughly built a model of the chandelier that was in the sketch from a few days ago. It looks nothing like the drawing, but I like how the proportions came out.

My first prototype brought my attention to the thickness of the thread. My chandelier came out kinked. If I made the string longer, the beads run smoother. If I used a stiffer string, I could create a rounded out semicircle, where the bottom half of the chandelier hangs. This unanticipated aspect helped me determine the size of the beads: I want the string to be fluid (I don’t want a stiffer thread) so I have to make a larger chandelier keeping the bead size exactly where it is.

What turned out better than expected was the color and the bead shape. The clay is pink. I tried two shades of light blue and I found a shade with a more transparent blue that looked great in combination with the pink underneath.

The first version has a more elongated top half. Here's an earlier version of the beads.

The beads are tiny and although I planned for them to be more consistent in shape, I couldn’t actually do that with my hands. The result was an assortment of completely irregular beads. There’s more texture and the beads remind me of necklaces I’ve seen in the museum, from archeological sites in Mesopotamia.

I also noticed how the entire chandelier is strung. If I start from the top with one needle and thread and string from top to bottom, round out at the bottom and head back to the top, I’ll have a smoother curve at the bottom. However, the original sketch suggested that the multiple strings at the bottom were tied together in the center. I’m not sure what I’ll do, perhaps but I think the separate strings tied together will work on a larger scale.

Stay tuned for the second prototype.

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