“Wake” by Michael McGillis is a 95-foot long pathway enclosed on both sides by brightly-painted cut logs; it’s on display at the Franconia Sculpture Park in Minnesota. Although the installation is apparently a commentary on humanity’s disruption of nature, for us (barbarians!) it’s an idea for embellishing the logs we hauled home after Hurricane Sandy, or still have our eye on out in the park…or a way to sparkle up part of a stash of fire wood. read more…
While we were poking around floral designer Emily Thompson’s website, we came across this swell little tabletop decoration: pillar candles arranged on the bed of a vintage toy pickup truck (all sorts available at Ebay.)
Related posts: fab bird’s nest wreath (+ other found holiday decor ideas)
diy holiday wreaths (out of just about anything)
alt christmas trees made of string lights n’ things to d-i-y
d-i-y tape trees for walls, windows, or…
alt (wall) Christmas trees
holiday tabletop decor from the farmer’s market
(Video link here.) When commercial photographer John Dugdale lost most of his sight almost twenty years ago, he did not give up photography as one would have imagined. Instead, he started photographing in a new way, using a huge view camera and employing 19th century forms and processes. Life forced him to “see in a new way” and his art photographs became highly acclaimed.
Among his many commissions was the ad campaign for a revival of William Gibson’s play The Miracle Worker. This video gives insight into his unique process and the “lesson” he took from his blindness.
“There is an alternate world out there that is as powerful as anything one might describe as normal. Whatever it is that you think is your adversity is actually your strength.” read more…
After we posted about making wreaths of “just about anything“, Maria Robledo sent us a picture of a wreath that pushes that idea in the most wonderful and surprising way: a real bird’s nest nestled into winter branches whose leaves have dropped. It was a gift from inspired floral designer Emily Thompson, who even left bits of New York City debris that were part of the find.
Maria photographed on story on Thompson’s “wild” wreath-making for Martha Stewart Living Magazine. Wrote Maria: ”Emily’s wreaths are always naturally-shaped. Doesn’t use the pre-wreath gadgets.” We found a slide-show here.
We love that Thompson often uses found and foraged materials. Any of the materials she winds into wreaths could simply be arranged on the holiday table, instead of flowers… read more…
Charlotte, Daniel, Olivia, Josephine, Ana, Dylan, Madeline, Catherine, Chase, Jesse, James, Grace, Emilie, Jack, Noah, Caroline, Jessica, Benjamin, Avielle, Allison…
When President Obama said those names aloud today during his moving speech at Newtown, our hearts broke, again.
We found ourselves comforted by the words-gone-viral of kindly old Fred Rogers —Mr. Rogers — advocate and true friend of children for eons. It is our experience that there are indeed helpers all around, and that in each moment, there is the possibility of light, unimaginable perhaps, until it appears. read more…
(Video link here.) We find this video of guys throwing balls with their “other hand” is both hilarious and curiously illuminating. It’s really funny how cockeyed throwing with the other hand makes these guys, and how off their aim. But intentionally switching handedness — or any practice we do routinely — can be a kind of training. It forces you to be present, see things differently and engages different parts of the brain. We’ve found that writing with our “other hand” produces a very different kind of writing: wilder, more personal, another voice within us.
It’s just on other way of waking ourselves up.
Some time ago, Michael Druzinsky, an acquaintance of mine who is a composer, emailed his friend Mark Bernstein, who created the idea-mapping softwear Tinderbox, to ask if he’d mind talking to me about his very interesting software. Michael forwarded Mark’s reply: “Sally Schneider’s book, A New Way to Cook, changed my life. I’ve given it to lots of people. I’d be delighted to meet her.” Wow. There is NOTHING like a good unsolicited compliment. Then I discovered that Mark had devoted a blog post to the A New Way to Cook, unsolicited. Mark GOT the book so well, I’ve excerpted his post.
I happened across Sally Schneider’s A New Way to Cookin a chain bookstore one day, just about three years ago. It’s very big and very broad, and The Joy of Cooking is clearly not far from its mind.
But while Joy of Cooking is a vast collection of recipes, A New Way to Cook is trying to explain a much smaller core of ideas, expressed in the form of recipes with variations. We have, for example, a core recipe for “braising small fish” or “rustic fruit tart”, and then examine a host of ingredients that we can add or subtract — and the changes that these additions and subtractions will require. In the fruit tart, for example, we might use apples or pears or strawberries (less water, more flour, add rhubarb) or blueberries (try a little thyme) or raspberries (even frozen — add more flour because they’re wet) or reconstituted dried apricots. It’s all the same idea.
And that’s a powerful idea, read more…
This swell little visual toy by Koalas to the Max came via Michael Warren of Mike and Molly’s House. Being an ardently curious soul, Michael checked out its source code and made an interesting discovery:
There are a bunch of examples of things people have done with it here. Some interesting stuff and pretty experimental. I didn’t look at them all but check out “OMG Particles” and “Square Circle Spiral Illusion“. They are pretty neat.
Really neat! We love that what started as a code to make charts turned into code to make read more…
A reader recently alerted us to Bea Johnson, creator of the website Zero Waste Home, who challenged herself to wear a single man’s shirt in 50 different iterations, as part of her committment to a zero waste lifestyle:
Great inspiration, and many iterations look so wearable and comfortable. Reminds me of Audrey Hepburn and her oversize shirts with tails wrapped around her waist and tied in front. A great look and a fresh perspective at the same time.
Bea posted images of her many stylish shirt improvisations on Zero Waste Home. Unfortunately, the black-and-white photos don’t show all the detail we’re dying to see, nor does Bea describe the fabric and style of the shirt she chose: But we got a sense of it in this photo: read more…
(Video link here.) You could say that the renowned artist Alexander Calder, the creator of the mobile, was a major influence on ‘the improvised life’. When I was 13 or so, I babysat his grandkids, and first saw his work around their house: a mobile casually placed on a dining table, household objects made of wire and tin (sometimes a tin can): lamp, tea ball, ashtray, all with his inimitable style. They CHANGED the way I saw things, and opened my mind possibilities inherent in ordinary things, though I didn’t know it at the time.
The Calder Foundation‘s redesign of their website reminded me of that time because it provides such stunning access to the Calder’s life and work, starting with a mobile-in-action on the home page (much better than my iPhone video of it, above). Once you enter the site, you can move sideways and up-and-down to navigate through the artist’s stunningly varied work, by subject or period of his life. (Check out Household Objects, Jewelry, and Toys to see how Calder applied his creative vision to practical matters.) He is, to my mind, one of the most inspiring of improvisers.
There are lots of unexpected bits to discover, read more…
Sunday’s New York Times featured a wonderful interview with Bill Murray, a man who never ceases to astonish us for his very improvised ways. (He’s the guy who spontaneously said: Grab this day by the neck and kiss it.)
The first couple of pages of a 2010 GQ interview we stumbled on intimates that Murray is not all sweetness and light, but he is an acutely original and honest guy whose thought a lot about how he wants to live, and what, exactly, the point is. (If you want to reach him, you leave a message on an 800 number; if he wants to speak to you he’ll call you back!)
Here’s are a few potent life lessons we clipped from the Times piece:
Q. There seems to be so much serendipity in your life. Are you actively cultivating these moments or just hoping that they come to you?
A. Well, you have to hope that they happen to you. That’s Pandora’s box, right? She opens up the box, and all the nightmares fly out. And slams the lid shut, like, “Oops,” and opens it one more time, and hope pops out of the box. That’s the only thing we really, surely have, is hope. You hope that you can be alive, that things will happen to you that you’ll actually witness, that you’ll participate in. Rather than life just rolling over you, and you wake up and it’s Thursday, and what happened to Monday? Whatever the best part of my life has been, has been as a result of that remembering.
Q. Are there days where you wake up and think: “Nothing good has come to me in a little while. I’d better prime the pump”? read more…
After our disastrous experience with a bogus architectural plan drawer we found on Craigslist, the dilemma remained: how to get excellent architectural plans made for the Laboratory’s renovation without paying a fortune. Our new strategy was to put the word out for a talented graduate from a great architecture program like Columbia University and closely suss their work before beginning.
We found Emily Johnson through an architect a friend was working with. Emily’s drawings and plans were stunning. And although her focus was public spaces, the high level of her problem-solving abilities and imagination were apparent at the first meeting. We discussed our ideas with her. She suggested clever solutions to some of our design quandaries as well as people she knew that might help, from licensed architects to sign-off on final plans, to concrete floor finishers. She GOT what we were thinking.
Here’s what impressed us about Emily (and what to look for when interviewing any architectural plan-maker): read more…
(Video link here.) This morning, the great Manhattan User’s Guide (which is great WAY beyond Manhattan), posted something of a tribute to Rube Goldberg, the guy behind the term Rube Goldberg Machine: ”a comically involved, complicated invention, laboriously contrived to perform a simple operation“ according to Webster’s.
What always delighted me about Rube’s inventions was that they were always designed to solve some utterly practical problem, but did it in the most imaginative — and mind-bogglingly indirect — way, all-the-while reminding you of the very real possibilities for invention using everyday objects.
Although I’ve have seen a lot of clever Golberg-esque machinations and artworks, I’ve rarely seen a person who was as true to Rube’s brilliant craziness as Joseph Herscher, who seems to be carrying the mantle with his wondrous Page Turning Machine. All he does to set it in motion is read more…
We find this simple practice from Thich Nhat Hanh‘s great book Peace Is Every Step: The Path of Mindfulness in Everyday Life to be a tonic. You can do it anywhere — subway, shopping mall, supermarket…It changes everything.
It’s on a par with Bill Murray’s “Grab this day by the neck and kiss it”.
Related posts: ‘don’t give up what you want most for what you want now’
‘leap and the net will appear’…
henry miller’s eleven commandments
gandhi: ‘our beliefs become our…destiny
‘what’s not wrong?’ and other ways to start your day