The great blog Ouno recently documented a visit to Taliesin West, Frank Lloyds Wright’s winter home and the main campus of the Frank Lloyd Wright School of Architecture. A photo of the “dinner cabaret room” caught our eye: strings of tiny lights glowe3d on the ceiling. We don’t know if this is a Wrightian touch or an innovation of the current caretakers (more images below). But it got us thinking about using string lights as actual indoor lighting…not Christmas lights, but strings of lights with bigger, more illuminating bulbs.
So, we went on the hunt for ideas and sources, to explore the possibilities.
We love these lights hung vertically to make a partition and define a room… read more…
A satisfying find from the recently-redesigned Remodelista: Anthropologie’s Ephemera Clip. Made of distressed iron (wonder if it will rust…then it might get REALLY beautiful), with a hole in one handle so you can hang it, it is like a little sculpture…Endlessly useful for clipping together receipts, papers, closing food bags…
(Our strategy for being “on hold” is to wear an old-fashioned telephone headset - an essential tool – so we can write, scan blogs, surf…as we follow one thing to another… draw….and make cups of tea…cook. It’s not so much being “on hold” that we mind, it’s the irritating music that’s the problem. Take away the music, and it wouldn’t bother us much at all.)
We are big fans of impromptu business cards as well as interesting signs posted on public walls, or, well, anywhere. So we’re smitten with the possibilities inherent in Printery & Bindery’s compact, portable self-inking rubber stamp, with a ring to affix it to your key chain, for anywhere stamping. You could have it made up to print your essential info for instant business cards, OR design a sign you want to stamp around town…like CREATE! or JOY! or BE YES!. At $23, they’re a bargain (and a gift we’d want to get).
I know of very few people who don’t get anxious at the prospect of roasting a turkey. Because the breast cooks more quickly than the dark meat thigh, it is often dry and overcooked by the time the bird comes out of the oven. Nobody seems to be certain of what, exactly, the best roasting method is, whether high heat or low, tented with foil, or roasted breast down.
Brining, submerging the bird in a salt-and-sugar solution before roasting it, is one of the most foolproof ways I know of to insure a succulent, flavorful roasted turkey. And the best brine I know of for turkey was created by Alice Waters, the inspired, inspiring founder and guiding light of Chez Panisse in Berkeley California, from whom this recipe was adapted (and published in A New Way to Cook.) The seasonings in the brine bring out the turkey’s natural flavor, and make it taste more like a farm bird with subtle herbal overtones.
The only problem with brining are the logistics: read more…
Remember the beautiful Chauvet cave paintings we wrote about a few months ago? Well every artist needs his or her toolkit, and archeologists recently discovered what appear to be “artist kits” in a South African cave. The kits, which date back 100,000 years, are made of abalone shells, perfect for holding and transporting essential painting materials: a quartzite stone for grinding up pigments like charcoal and ochre – which produces rich reds and yellows – and the pigments themselves. The ground pigments were poured into the shell and mixed with a liquid to make paint. One of the kits held a slender bone from the front leg of a wolf or dog with one end dipped in ochre: a possible paint brush. The kits are the first known instance of homo sapiens compounding a painting medium. Charcoal and ochre are the same materials used in the Chauvet cave, but those paintings are only 30,000 years old.
The desire to create is built into our very DNA. Our lineage is full of artists… read more…
Dutch Interior magazine VT Wonen recently commissioned stylist Frans Uyterlinden to create interesting ‘show house’ using an eclectic mix of materials. (Check out a preview at VosgesParis). Our favorite bit: a bench/sideboard made by lashing together recycled boards. We see big possibilities in this idea… read more…
When the wooden knob came off our 50′s Danish tea kettle, we TRIED EVERYTHING we could think of make it stick tightly to its metal lid that would regularly got really hot. No longterm success. We finally put the kettle in the street hoping someone would find a use for it. We wish we’d known about Sugru, a silicone “modeling clay” that sticks to many materials including aluminum, steel, ceramics, glass and some plastics like perspex. You’ve got 30 minutes to mold it or use it as you want; after that, it’ll cure at room temperature, into a tough, flexible materials that is waterproof, and can withstand temperatures from -76′ to 356′F.
According to Sugru’s site, it is the brainchild of Jane, who was studying product design when she had an idea: “I don’t want to buy new stuff all the time. I want to hack the stuff I already have so it works better for me.” So she enlisted some materials scientists to help her develop a material that would allow her to do that.
We especially love their philosophy: “Hack things better. That’s our motto…It’s not about ‘making-do’, it’s about taking control of our stuff; modifying and improving the products we own so that they work better for us.”
We already have a ton of ideas for using Sugru, and ordered some in chic black and white.
You can buy it here, in packs of colors, or black-and-white, or small packs of single colors.
A while ago, we noticed a woman walking down the street with two brightly-colored hula hoops balanced on her shoulder. We ran after her to find out what she was doing with them, and where she was heading. She told us she was going to practice hula hooping, to which she was devoted. She called herself Suzi Hoops and she said she LOVES hula hooping because “Whatever is wrong and bothering you in your life disappears.”
Suzi came to hula hooping couple of years ago when she saw a sign for a free hula hoop class being offered at Groove Hoops, a hula hoop performance troop. She went to the class and got hooked right away, finding hula hooping to be the perfect exercise and a great way to meet cool people (“who are always have a smile”). “Hula hooping is hopeful.” she said. We asked her if she’d spin her hoops for us and she did (we’re sorry we didn’t shoot video)… read more…
Charles McFarlane, a friend who is a student at the Rudolf Steiner school (and who provided the material for the great post on World War II improvisations recently), sent us this inspired improv he spotted at school.
“…when a friend’s canvas shoes started to separate at the sole, he used dental floss to chain stitch them back together.”
Stuart Mason Dambrot, ‘the improvised life’s resident concilientist|futurist has sent us many wonderful ideas since our first syncronous meeting on a New York City street corner. The latest, the work of designer Siren Elise Wilhelmsen, inventor of the Toast Spoons we recently blogged as well as Found, an oddly stylish stool put together from scraps found in a carpenter’s workshop. “Depending on which business and which projects they are working on, the waste will always be different and one stool will never look the same as the other; each item is unique.” read more…
When Consilientist | Futurist Stuart Dambrot alerted us to Norwegian designer Siren Elise Wilhelmsen’s toast spoons, we were totally smitten. We envisioned them brushed with olive oil and a cut clove of garlic, to eat our soup/stew/eggs with. Then we realized that they were part of a bigger study, of the idea that “Like the fascintating species of nature are a result of biological evolution, our everyday products are results of an artificial evolution; both are the results of optimization of hereditary characteristics from generation to generation.”
Feeling that the spoon had come to the end of its evolution, having hardly changed for hundreds of years (except in its decoration), Wilhelmsen set about to explore its evolutionary possibilities, adding into the mix ‘different ways of human eating’ (necessity just about always being the mother of invention). The experiment came up with some “interesting spin-offs, read more…
Dangerous Minds posted this free hour-long mix of the now defunct band Kraftwerk’s pioneering electronic music. (It seemed revolutionary when it first appeared. Curiously, we read that they were heavily influenced by the Beach Boys, in addition to the German composer Stockhausen). It’s an example of what’s possible from MixCloud, a site full of free music mixes.
We find short doses of Kraftwerk good to work to, i.e. we can think and write while it’s on in the background…some of it makes our ideas shoot around in a nice way. Some of it makes us jump around. (We don’t know how to shift off a song we’re not crazy about without interrupting the mix, so we just turn the volume down way low.)