Improvised Life » materials for making If you can't hunt with a dog, hunt with a cat... Thu, 13 Nov 2014 09:20:48 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Cool Wall-Mounted Kraft Paper Dispenser Tue, 11 Nov 2014 18:00:26 +0000

We use Kraft paper all the time for jobs around the house — as a big page to block out ideas, a drawable tablecloth, decoratable wrapping paper, table protection when doing messy projects, and desk blotter/notepad. Right now, we have the roll standing upright in our tool closet. When we need paper, we have to unroll it and cut with a utility knife. Having easy access for when the mood/need hits would be a boon.

So we are really taken with George & Willy’s Studio Roller a wall-mounted, kraft paper roll dispenser that easily lets you pull out a section of paper when you need it. (more…)

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Glue Gun Textiles and Couture Thu, 06 Nov 2014 22:37:33 +0000

Jonathan Leung

At Carnegie Mellon University’s yearly Lunar Gala Fashion Show, Industrial Designer Miriam Buchwald showcased COCOON, her line of dresses made totally of hot glue.

She didn’t hot glue fabric. She MADE the textiles out of hot-glue, which has expanded our view of hot glue’s possibility greatly, way beyond crafty Martha Stewart.  (more…)

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Found Magazine Page Envelopes Redux Thu, 06 Nov 2014 18:00:15 +0000

Sally Schneider/Pamela Hovland

Our friend Pamela Hovland is an extraordinary designer who helped us create the original look for Improvised Life. Our first year in business, we wrote about her clever use of ripped-out pages from magazines as her envelopes. Recently she sent us this beauty with the message “this wrapper had your name all over it“. Indeed it did.

We held back from opening it until we could photograph it; it is an enduringly good and charming improvisation.  (more…)

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Interlocking Cardboard Disks for Building Mon, 03 Nov 2014 17:50:17 +0000

Luke Hayes

As great admirers of the infinite possibilities of ordinary cardboard, we love British designer Torsten Sherwood‘s simplified single-component system that encourages instinctive building. Noook are colored, double-faced cardboard disks that slot together to create overlapping formations that can create unique structures.

Inspired by Legos, Noook offer’s infinite possible combinations. Designed for children, we see it as a wonderful material for adults. (more…)

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Halloween Mask Inspiration from Morath and Steinberg Fri, 31 Oct 2014 15:00:01 +0000

Inge Morath

Recently, we came across a portfolio of images created by legendary photographer Inge Morath in collaboration with the ever-illuminating Saul Steinberg. In the Mask Series. paper bags and pieces of cardboard totally change ordinarily dressed people into OTHER…. (more…)

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Pineapple and other ALT Jack-O-Lanterns Thu, 30 Oct 2014 23:00:48 +0000

Style Files

Haven’t gotten your Halloween act together? Here are some alternatives to the traditional carved pumpkin that you can do in time for Halloween, one of the BEST holidays for the wild creativity that is in evidence everywhere. A re-envisioned pineapple makes the perfect scary face…

…Traditional Cornish jack-o’-lanterns were carved from turnips. Dig this baby: (more…)

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A Spiky Red Block Wall Thu, 30 Oct 2014 21:00:26 +0000

French artist Didier Faustino created this spiky red wall reminiscent of a cartoon explosion as an art installation on the grounds of a 1950’s villa designed by architect and sculptor André Bloc .

We love it for the ideas it gives us about doorways and walls: a wall painted that fab red/orange would make a wondrous “welcome” OR a reminder of “surprise” and “joy”.


via Dezeen

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Jack-O’-Lantern Inspiration + Advice from Anni Albers Wed, 29 Oct 2014 21:00:17 +0000


Halloween is Friday, and we’re anticipating many examples of The Art of the Pumpkin. As with other materials-for-making, pumpkins inspire what to do IF we “listen to that which wants to be done“, a la Anni Albers. If the message is unclear, or you’re feeling uninspired, here are some unusual jack-o’-lantern examples to spark your imagination. (more…)

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Money is a ‘Material for Making’ Tue, 28 Oct 2014 21:52:27 +0000

Holton Rower

Among Improvised Life’s many categories and themes is “Materials for Making“. We love finding surprising uses for materials and showing you how you can use them.

The other day as we were mulling our Friends with Benefits subscription program, we realized that money is a Material for Making as well. (more…)

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Tree Branch Book Shelf + Cut-Out Wed, 22 Oct 2014 20:34:34 +0000

We discovered artisan/designer Olivier Dolle‘s lovely tree branch book shelf when reader Kevin Neff sent us an Instructable for a cardboard version inspired by it. We find the wooden one quite beautiful and appreciate its asymmetry, unusual in shelving.

The cardboard version has it’s own charm.  (more…)

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Optical Illusion Rug or Floor Stencil Wed, 22 Oct 2014 17:49:39 +0000


When we looked closely at this 3D rug, we realized that it was really an assemblage of simple shapes that LOOKED way more complex that in is.

Very cool as a rug OR as a painted floor. (more…)

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Fallen Autumn Leaves are a Material for Making Wed, 22 Oct 2014 08:05:02 +0000

Walking in the park the other day, we saw a young woman lying in a huge pile of brightly-colored leaves…half buried really, resting; she looked relaxed and content.  Around her three little girls were all happily making things out of leaves. And we thought LEAVES. What a beautiful material-for-making things all around us.

That got us looking for Fallen Leaf Creations. (more…)

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Hands as Tools: Ethiopian Version Fri, 17 Oct 2014 08:08:19 +0000 (Video link HERE.) State-of-the art eating in Ethiopia.

Made by hand, eaten by hand.

When I was there, I don’t think I saw a cooking utensil that wasn’t either wood or clay, a rough panga for chopping beef, and a cheap plastic cup here and there for pouring. No need for Sur la Table, Williams-Sonoma or a fancy Wolf range to dine well there. (more…)

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Annals of Hair Design: the Hair Hat! Thu, 16 Oct 2014 21:00:46 +0000

We are continually amazed at the mighty improvisational and creative brilliance-in-the-realm-of-hair-dos we see around town daily. But these hair hats may take the cake.

We don’t know HOW this Caucasian guy got his bone-straight hair to stay put (or why?… the mysteries of the artist’s impulse).

Dig this African American version. The bill can be worn in front…


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