Improvised Life If you can't hunt with a dog, hunt with a cat... Fri, 19 Sep 2014 17:40:31 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Contest: Solve the Vibrating Bed Mystery Fri, 19 Sep 2014 08:00:25 +0000

Holton Rower

A few months ago, after a mysterious vibration coming through the floor started shaking our bed, and us, awake at night, we wrote about the improvised bed legs I’d made using yoga blocks and special thick rubber we’d researched. It worked for a while, but we are still plagued by the mysterious vibration that is keeping us sleep-deprived. (From surfing the internet we realize that THOUSANDS of people suffer from this problem). We have read endless technical papers on the vagueries of how sound and vibration travel. We’ve lost count of our attempts at damping the vibration, including the sculptural “bed shocks, above, my friend Holton Rower devised.

So we’re issuing a challenge to Improvised Life’s clever readers: help us devise a solution to keep the bed from being shaken by the vibration coming through the floor. The winner will receive a lifetime subscription to Improvised Life. Here’s what we’ve tried already (call us crazy but we can’t sleep): (more…)

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Worried About Climate Change? March In NYC Sunday and/or… Fri, 19 Sep 2014 02:18:50 +0000

Worried about climate change and want to know what you can do about it? The largest march in history that will take place in NYC this Sunday. Check out the People’s Climate March website for info, or this article from the New York Times. We will be there.

Can’t make it? Watch — or listen to — Disruption this weekend, and find out why ‘When it comes to climate change, why do we do so little when we know so much?’ 

It will change how to see climate change FAST. (Video link here.)


Thanks Holton!

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Extra Long Ribbon Book Mark to Mark Many Pages Thu, 18 Sep 2014 21:00:51 +0000

Sally Schneider

Last weekend we bought a big fat book of Pablo Neruda’s odes for a dear friend’s birthday gift. Loving to improvise the presentation of our gifts, we went to our collection of found ribbons and wrappings wondering what would strike us.

A very long, thin green ribbon gave us the answer: it would become a 3-foot+ bookmark that could wind in and out of the book to mark the odes we wanted our friend to read first, so that they too would become a kind of gift. (more…)

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Interiors Painted in the Style of Famous Artists Thu, 18 Sep 2014 17:00:12 +0000

Brand New Paint Job

At Brand New Paint Job, artist Jon Rafman overlays the visual style of iconic artists onto rooms and objects, from a Fernand Leger Bomb to a Cy Twombly Lamborghini.

We were especially struck by Rafman’s interiors which seem completely viable, while instantly shifting our view. We would love go sleep in the Paul Klee Master Bedroom, above, or go to a school with a De Kooning-esque Hallway and Lockers.(more…)

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Air Baths and Other Ways to Enhance Creativity Thu, 18 Sep 2014 09:15:17 +0000

At Improvised life,  we’re always interested in ways to become more creative and productive. So when we came across Mason Currey’s latest book Daily Rituals: How Artists Work we were excited. Currey describes personal quirks and daily rituals developed by many of the world’s great artists, musicians and film makers.

From the bizarre right through to the strikingly simple – the book reminds us that we all work in individual and often improvised ways: (more…)

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An Easy Fix for a Common Subscription Glitch Wed, 17 Sep 2014 22:00:33 +0000

Since we launched our Friends with Benefits subscription service, we’ve thankfully had few glitches. Occasionally, however, a subscriber writes to say that they get the KnockKnock curtain telling them they’ve used up their five free reads for the month and can’t access more unless they subscribe. But they ARE subscribed. What to do? (more…)

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11 Strangely Clever Improvisations with Instant Ramen Wed, 17 Sep 2014 20:00:16 +0000

(Video link here.)  If you ever find yourself having to cook dinner from a mini-mart, keep in mind these 11 clever improvisations on the theme of instant ramen, an iconically cheap, vin ordinaire instant ingredient.  Sometimes THAT kind of ingredients ia more challenging to improvise with than purist hi-brow ones.

Our favorite: gnocchi said to have been invented by the great chef David Chang.

Note: You need to BOIL the noodles first to make any of this work. We’d boil ‘em in salted water, not the msg broth.

via Kottke

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Surprising Painted Patterns on Floors, Walls, Ceilings Wed, 17 Sep 2014 16:59:28 +0000

Jerome Galland via myscandinavianhome

Why buy rugs to roll out on your floors, when you can paint them? Why collect art when you can decorate walls, floors and ceiling, with found materials?

I’m smitten by these two wildly different, improvisational ways that artists have used paint to mimic and displace art in such disparate places as a house on the Cycladic island of Serifos in Greece, and a classroom in Bihar, east India. In Greece, the floors get the spartan treatment; in India, on walls and ceilings, the sublimely ornate and colored with suprising materials. Both are divine. (more…)

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Practice: Ask ‘What’s Not Wrong?’ Wed, 17 Sep 2014 09:16:24 +0000


The other day a friend sent us this image of a homeless person lying amidst a drawn virtual room. We have no doubt it was staged by an artist (whoever he/she is) but it still has a feeling of randomness, that life could ironically set things up that way.

There are the symbols of a cozy home, something we all want, and the harsh realities of NOT: a mattress on the street. Imagine!

We make a practice of imagining such a reality as a way of unhooking from our own lack of perspective, the “I don’t have THIS or THAT”, or “I’m not where I think I should be”, or other nullifying judgments.  No matter how tenacious those feelings, “perspective enhancers” like the image above automatically cause us to shift, (more…)

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Deirdre Newman’s Trompe L’oeil to Soften Hard Angles Tue, 16 Sep 2014 22:00:56 +0000

Deirdre Newman

Decorative painter Deirdre Newman is one of the many creative souls we’ve connected with through Improvised Life. We’re hoping to meet her in person one of these days and see what collaboration might happen (dig her faux-stained parquet floor we featured). In the meantime, we check into her portfolio once in a while for ideas. We love this simple way of softening and charming up a standard staircase: with a wavey scroll.  (more…)

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“Triumph” Writ Large in the Street Tue, 16 Sep 2014 20:00:20 +0000

Sally Schneider

We find that as we practice LOOKING on our walks around the city, we really do cultivate SEEING. It happens automatically when we slow down a bit. Look UP! we often write, encouraging a shift of perspective. The other day, we unexpectedly looked DOWN, to find, etched in one of those massive steel plates maintenance crews use to cover road work, this powerful sign.

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Weave a Grapevine or Room Screen Tue, 16 Sep 2014 17:00:33 +0000

Sally Schneider

In a recent ramble around New York, we came upon this classical iron fence, transformed by grapevine. The fence acts like a loom or structure through which someone wove grapevine in and out to make for much greater privacy and a warmer, more organic feel.

And of course, that got us looking up grapevine (which we use for smoking foods; stay tuned for a post on that), and how to use it, and then imagining other applications for it… (more…)

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What if Your Life Were a Painting? Tue, 16 Sep 2014 08:14:08 +0000


We —our lives — are really a kind of artist’s canvas.

When we take that view, we ask ourselves:

What are we painting?

Do we paint with kindness, generosity, anger, fear, bravado, hatred, curiosity… (more…)

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Permanent Hopscotch for Spontaneous Skip + Jump Mon, 15 Sep 2014 21:30:17 +0000

Virginia del Giudice

Photographer Virginia del Giudice has been sending us sightings from her travels in Amsterdam of random brilliant “everyday” improvisations the Dutch have come up with. Here’s a favorite: numbered tiles formed into a hopscotch grid and placed permanently on the sidewalk, for a quick spontaneous skip and jump on your way to do an errand or go to work.  Totally charming and do-able.


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