"Have nothing in your houses that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful.”
_ William Morris
, 19th century craftsman, designer, writer

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Friday, March 30, 2012

Country Drive: Ipswich & Essex

If you are lucky enough to have a little unscheduled time this weekend, consider a country drive...

This one took us through Ipswich and Essex in Massachusetts...you never know what you might find around that next bend in the road. Spontaneous serendipity!

Roadside antiquing & window shopping... 

The White Elephant Shop was voted Best Antique Shop on the North Shore by Boston Magazine. Love the way they hung the lanterns! Charming & easy! The two-story shop is classic Americana and filled to the brim with treasures..

Who could pass up the Clam Box in Ipswich without stopping? The whimsical landmark is a local legend and serves up generous portions of fried clams.  You might have to wait to get in -but don't be discouraged! It's worth it!

I found this video on YouTube to show what it's like inside. Not fancy, but fun & fabulous just the same!

Happy adventuring!

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Garden: Wisteria

People who grow wisteria are romantics.

Beautiful and dramatic, the lush, languid vines flower only once a year and although they are spectacular -they are anything but practical. Sort of like falling in love.

The meaning of wisteria varies through the ages, but in her blog, What's Your Sign, writer Avia Venefica says while the Japanese find the plant a symbol of love lost and the ability of the heart to endure, the Buddhists view it as a symbol of prayer and quiet reverence.

Similarly, practitioners of Feng Shui believe wisteria is a visual reminder of bowing down to show honor and respect and should be cultivated for moments of quiet contemplation.

Venefica also reports some wisteria plants have survived for more than one hundred years -allowing the poetic, inspiring vines to symbolize longevity and immortality as well.

According to Gardening Know How, the aggressive, twining vine will require full sun, pruning and sturdy support as it grows. Otherwise, the fragrant, drought-tolerant vine requires little water or fertilizer.     

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

ImagineNations Globes = World Piece

San Francisco artist Wendy Gold has got the whole world in her hands...and then she decoupages it.

Using vintage globes as her canvas, Wendy creates wonderful, whimsical one-of-a-kind pieces featuring hand-cut images. Think: hundreds of butterflies, superheroes, botanical imagery, world peace themes, motivational messages and more.

Prices are based upon a standard 12" globe and begin around $350. Each piece is made to order by hand (allow 6-8 weeks) and, "no two will be exactly the same". It's hard to pick a favorite.

Last year, the artist expanded her line to include YOUniverse, a do-it-yourself globe art kit for you crafty types out there who are reading this and thinking, "I bet I could do that..." And now, you can.

 What a great way to show someone they mean the world to you.

Your World (Personalized Family Tree)

Where The Wild Things Are

To The Rescue

Custom Marriage
 (Customized designs upon request. Gift idea: new baby or graduate!)


Monday, March 26, 2012

DIY: Environmental Awareness

It's easy to forget that little decisions we make around the house every day can affect our neighborhood, our environment and our world -but they do.

Local Green Team leaders, Kim Petersen and Cathy Procopio at Hughes Middle School in Long Beach, California created a video to help kids (and adults!)  understand that small acts = big impact. Whether that impact is positive or negative is up to us.

Like our fish friend Gill said in the Disney/Pixar film Finding Nemo, "All drains lead to the ocean."

Garbage in, garbage out.

It was an Aha! moment for Nemo. 
I hope it is for us too.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Great Outdoors: Glamping

I'm the kind of camper who likes a good Starbucks close by and whenever possible, turn-down service...

But these cute tents from UK-based, FieldCandy are enough to lure almost anyone into the great outdoors.

Fully booked

Each tent is part of a limited edition design series and features a limited edition 'badge'. The Fully Booked tent ($783) was designed by Jack Maxwell -proving yet again that books are always a great escape.
Underneath the decorative, outer 'fly sheet' is a high performance tent that would win the approval of any  Boyscout. Features include: waterproofing, heavy duty zips, extra strong pegs, easy set up poles, and lockable interior storage pockets with combination padlocks included. Snazzy.

Fully booked 

Sleeping under the stars in your own back yard can be fun too...the Snug As A Bug ($783) patchwork tent would be the hit of the pajama party!

Snug as a bug
 Got a cute idea for a campy tent? FieldCandy welcomes 'talented upcoming or established designers' to submit ideas for consideration, and possibly become part of the team.
  Animal farm

Baaaa.....Animal Farm $783...okay, cute doesn't come sheep...I mean cheap...

 Out of a suitcase
Not all who wander are lost. Camping Out of A Suitcase, $704.

 Old Glory
From sea to shining sea. Old Glory, $624.

Gives new meaning to the term, happy campers. Bring on the marshmallows!

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

At Home With Art: Dorte Christjansen

Stepping into artist, Dorte Christjansen's home in Southern California is like entering an art gallery -one filled with life, charm, beauty and discovery.

Since the best home decor reflects personal taste, life experiences, memories and passions -you only need to cross the threshold to understand what makes Dorte tick.

Born into a Danish legacy of art and married to sculptor, Stephen Werlick, her work and her life are inseparable.

The downstairs entryway showcases a stairwell hung with bronze and wooden sculpture, relief work, pencil sketches, oil paintings and watercolors Dorte and Stephen created in Europe. Dorte says sometimes the couple would be driving through a particularly picturesque area and they would stop to paint what they saw. 

Below, vases the late sculptor made from the bark of palm trees in their yard. Dorte says Werlick was always looking at things and seeing the potential for what they 'could be'. Sounds to me like a wonderful way to live. 

 The statuesque wooden lady is the first to greet guests as they enter. She stands about ten feet tall with generous, beautifully wrought proportions.

A gallery wall of framed art includes a large oil painting of Dorte's brother (age 2), painted by her grandfather, celebrated Danish artist, Rasmus Christiansen. 

Dorte's oil painting of her stepdaughter, Eve, (bottom left) was a Christmas gift for Stephen to commemorate the loss of Eve's two front teeth. Kind of like the song, "All I want for Christmas is my two front teeth..." -except in oils...

A sketch of Dorte as a child overlooks an entryway table of artwork that includes her own pieces as well as those of family, friends, and students.

Dorte's colorful watercolor bouquet graces the entry. Next to it, Werlick's bronze model castings for the Holocaust memorial erected at Temple Judea in Southern California.

On the stairway, a wooden sculpture poses beside Werlick's carving of a Shakespearean quote from As you Like It:

Sweet are the uses of adversity; Which like the toad, ugly and venomous, wears yet a precious jewel in his head; And this our life, exempt from public haunt, finds tongues in trees, books in running brooks, sermons in stones, and good in every thing.

And this is just the art you see when you first walk in...more to come...

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

In Studio: Dorte Christjansen

I met Danish-born artist, Dorte Christjansen last year during the Long Beach Open Studio Tour which allows art-lovers to peek inside the work spaces of local artists -for free! Needless to say, it was an inspiring weekend! 

Recently, I went back to try and capture the magic of Dorte's studio and the home she shared with her late husband, sculptor Stephen Werlick, for This American Home.

 One of Dorte's signature works is a series of Mandalas, large (this one measures 32"x32"), intricate watercolor designs painted directly upon silk. Christjansen uses batik techniques to create layers of color and achieves a 3D effect by carefully cutting and raising small details.

Detail from "Orchidworld".

I think an artist's studio provides a glimpse into how they see the world and what inspires them. The passion and talent Dorte has for art is evident and palpable.

Stephen's foundry shoes, a memento from his time teaching sculpture at California State University Long Beach, still hang where he slung them over a hook in the studio.

Art and inspiration are everywhere.

Inspiration amongst the cleaning supplies. Beauty amidst the mundane. I think I'm going to jazz up my cleaning cabinet... 

Dorte says her subject matter is influenced by her surroundings: landscape, garden, botanical imagery and pets (her cats especially!).

Currently, batiks and watercolors are Dorte's medium of choice but she is also accomplished at sculpture, oil painting and drawing and taught watercolor and illustration at California State Fullerton.

A watercolor of bearded irises in progress...I like the way the unfinished picture allows you better comprehend the process. Absolutely gorgeous!
Feel inspired? I hope so...get out those brushes...

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