When we were first planning ‘the improvised life’, we were inspired by this now-famous set of rules by Sister Corita Kent, artist and renown educator. They speak directly to the process of creating…ANYTHING. Here are our favorite essential rules:
Find a place you trust and then try trusting it for a while.
Consider everything as an experiment.
Nothing is a mistake. There’s no Win and no Fail. There’s only Make.
The only rule is work. If you work, it will lead to something…
Be happy whenever you can manage it. Enjoy yourself. It’s lighter than you think.
Recently we’ve been noodling around with the idea of with making a Murphy Bed with a lift-system of bungee cords. We haven’t heard of such a thing, but having seen the realm of industrial bungees available, thought it might be possible.
Then, with the simultaneity we’ve come to expect when we have an idea, we stumbled on some images of beautiful bungee cord chairs designed by René Herbst, a contemporary of Robert Mallet-Stevens and Le Corbusier, in the 1930′s. They illustrated the part of our idea that had been eluding us: how to make our improvised solution be visually appealing as well as practical, two qualities we strive for in all of our home improvisations (travel and emergencies are another matter): read more…
Just as we posted about the many possibilities for using plywood as a wall covering, we learned of this brilliant play on the idea: moveable MAGNETIC silkscreened tiles made out of plywood. They are the brainchild of Giovanna and Matt Taylor, a couple who had never designed before. Remembering the blue-and-white ceramic tiles of her Italian childhood, Giovanna imagined lightweight wooden tiles with magnetic backing would allow for endless applications and arrangements from wall art, to back splashes to headboards to….The couple started making them in their Brooklyn shop and Moonishco was born. read more…
Yesterday’s New York Times ran a story about Jeff Bauman, the young man in the iconic photograph from the Boston bombing. Grievously wounded, he survived because of the heroic actions of a stranger in a cowboy hat:
The Baumans [Jeff's parents] knew how lucky Jeff had been. “The man in the cowboy hat — he saved Jeff’s life,” Ms. Bauman said. Mr. Bauman’s eyes widened. He said: “There’s a video where he goes right to Jeff, picks him right up and puts him on the wheelchair and starts putting the tourniquet on him and pushing him out. I got to talk to this guy!”
The man in the cowboy hat, Carlos Arredondo,, 52, had been handing out American flags to runners when the first explosion went off. His son Alexander was a Marine killed in Iraq in 2004, and in the years since he has handed out the flags as a tribute.
With the first blast, Mr. Arredondo jumped over the fence and ran toward the people lying on the ground. What happened next, he later recounted to a reporter: read more…
Mindfulness practice – learning to be present in each moment– is something many people are embracing these days. Business are incorporating it and classes abound. Perhaps the most often-recommended “exercise” is washing dishes mindfully, although we know few people who really do it. Recently, we heard of one that did, truly. No surprise, it is Susan Dworski who, we are finding out, is a kind of radical activist of the everyday:
Several years ago I ripped out the dishwasher, built shelves and installed a deep, double sink. A cottage kitchen forces such Luddite decisions.The peace that descended after its removal was profound. Dishwashing became less a chore, more a meditation. Hot soapy water and plates air-drying silently on the tiled countertop are a balm after the roar of the rinse cycle and clattering silverware.
The window above the sink became a revolving gallery showcasing produce and flowers grown in her community garden plots. read more…
We’ve looked for quotes about violence and about terrorism that would shed some light on what happened in Boston yesterday… find some good, make us feel better. The only thing we could think to do is bear witness, hold those who were so gravely hurt in our hearts, keep a vigil…which we will today.
This image was tweeted by Reporter Nancy Chen; it was writen on the sidewalk outside the home of Martin Richard, the 8-year-old who was killed in the Boston Marathon bombing yesterday.
It was what we meant when we posted an image last night of an ancient Buddha’s hand and some flowers. read more…
On Sprinkles and Springs, we came across this diy striped tee inspired by the modish tee-shirt Marc Jacobs recently featured in his chic, stripey collection. It is a great example of I COULD MAKE THAT thinking that has infiltrated many a clever head. Sprinkles and Springs saw it and figured out how using a plain white tee shirt, masking tape and fabric paint. And then she generously posted a how-to that you could use to make Jacobs-ish stripes or your own graphic pattern (the method would also work fine on jeans, slipcovers, pillows, many fabrics…) read more…
(Video link here.) One of our favorite films has long been My Dinner with Andre, which is, on the surface, a conversation between two friends during dinner in a French restaurant in New York City. Andre Gregory vividly describes his revelatory, new-ageish, risk-taking experiences in experimental theatre while his modest less-adventurous friend Wally Shawn listens and mulls. Finally, Wally questions the necessity of such extremes, extolling the small sweet moments in his everyday life, culminating in a legendary cup of cold coffee at about 1:20. We’ve always loved this 3-minute-long scene, finding that it has illuminated many small blessings in our own daily life, including morning coffee.
We really love Flavorwire’s recent The Craziest Advice from Famous People which includes some wild stuff from cultural icons like Courteney Love, William Burroughs and Frank Zappa. We couldn’t help thinking that Jack Kerouac’s Belief & Technique for Modern Prose is a very curiously syncopated Beat poem full of jazzy wisdom about the creative process and living in general.
1. Scribbled secret notebooks, and wild typewritten pages, for yr own joy
2. Submissive to everything, open, listening
3. Try never get drunk outside yr own house
4. Be in love with yr life
5. Something that you feel will find its own form
6. Be crazy dumbsaint of the mind
7. Blow as deep as you want to blow read more…
Two images spotted on Japanese Trash recently opened our eyes to the possibility of using geometic cuts of plywood veneers as a wall covering. Ah, no, on closer inspection, the fireplace surround above appears to be stone…but it COULD be done with plywood…
To get a sense of range of possibilities, we recommend read more…
(Video link here. We recommend watching with the sound off.) This 1924 Pathe video rolls a number of ‘the improvised life’s favorite themes into a compelling minute and a half. Tightroping over a city, she’s defying norms, practiced like crazy to master her form, conquered any fears she had and take’s huge risks to dance joyfully in the air.
(Since she’s dressed in a hat and furs, we’re wondering if it was winter when she did her amazing feat.)
Recently, a friend mentioned her attempt to paint her wooden kitchen cabinets white using latex paint. Several months after she’d completed them, they’d yellowed and were difficult to clean. We’ve heard that complaint before about latex-painted furniture, and experienced the way it can remain “sticky”, a serious problem with bookshelves. We’d always thought that oil-base paint was the only serious solution. Fortuitously, Jim Dillon, a reader and cabinet maker, had just commented on our ‘the magic of an orange table top + high gloss oil paint‘ post, sharing a water-base solution he’d discovered in his furniture-painting forays.
…it was one of those techniques that I heard about in passing and tried out because it met the needs of the moment – - I had a client who wanted me to build new built-in bookcases and paint them white. Somebody told me this was the solution to books sticking to painted bookcases in August humidity, and it worked too well to not try in other places.
Been carving them since 1980 when our house burned down, and only my studio was saved. All four of us all lived in that one room for a while, and the only art I could make was something small, low tech, and cleanuppable: ink, paper, and stamps. After buying some commercial ones, carving erasers was a natural move, and proved effective therapy for the kids, who spent many hours stabbing away at erasers, and swabbing with colored markers, retelling their stories of the fire illustrated with the stamps. The neighborhood kids all got into the act, too. It was a lively time!
When your house burns down, make art!!!! An amazing point of view. read more…