Thursday, December 22, 2011

...about a winning wreath: the results!

From this!

It was SO fun using wreath winner Amanda's inspiration to create her custom wreath... (winter!) sprites and (sugar plum!) fairies... and her color inspiration of blues and purples.
As in all my wreaths, I started with a basic store-bought form, focusing on the big shapes first... the ornaments! Remember to shoot for general balance, not necessarily total symmetry. We're making a wreath, not a clock!

Next in, some botanical items (in this case, some wintry white faux fir, cut from larger sprays) to give the wreath some shape and fullness... but still focusing on the biggest shapes.

Next, the lighter botanicals... here, some glittery eucalyptus, and icy winter berry sprays, also trimmed down from larger pieces.

Final additions (and one of my happiest finds) were individually wired magenta glittered jingle bells, repeating the color of the larger glass teardrop shape ornaments... and the glitter of the eucalyptus.

With each wreath I design, there is usually a big "score" when I am shopping... and this year, it was the randomly-beaded ornaments, bringing all the wreath's colors together, but in traditional Christmas shapes.

Finally, iridescent glass ornaments... whose soap-bubble appearance repeated the blues, greens and purples of the wreath's elements, but with a light and magic hand. The last touches were smaller pieces of the botanicals, more jingle bells, and purple wire spheres, all inspired by the thinking, "What kind of wreath would fairies design?" It made making the wreath a great exercise in creativity, non-traditional Christmas décor thinking (that you can adapt to your own holiday decorations), and as much fun as I hope Amanda will have with the wreath this season, and in many years to come.

See how I got started on this first (annual??) wreath giveaway. See how I work on custom wreaths here. And thank you, ALL for supporting AskPatrick! Happy holidays to all!

Sunday, December 18, 2011

...about a winning wreath: getting started.

A sneak peek at the wreath-in-progress for the winner of my holiday wreath giveaway. Amanda had a few non-traditional ideas for her custom wreath... she loves blues and purples... and she loves fairies! (I KNOW! Sooooo sweet!) Luckily, the color choices for holiday ornaments run the full rainbow spectrum... so I shopped first by color, keeping the choices lighter, and in the cooler range wherever possible, to keep it all icy.

But how to get our Tinkerbell on, that is the question! Glitter is a suitable stand-in for pixie dust, so no issue there. And while I found several fairy and winter sprite ornaments, I wanted this to be a grown-up, and fun-but-elegant wreath for the very hardworking lady of her house... so instead of using those ornaments, or pixies or even wings (and after a brief flirtation with making this a butterfly wreath!), I had an Ah-ha-ho-ho-ho moment... what would a wreath look like IF sprites and Winter fairies were the creators, not the subject? I had taken the same tactic when I used to donate wreaths to Ft. Lauderdale's Museum of Art's annual fundraiser... making wreaths inspired by the Three Kings, and another, Neptune himself. That's when the fun began.

I looked for elements (like the purple wire spheres) that had a playful quality, and a sense of magic, and "unexpectedness" to them...

For every wreath, I look for botanical elements to add volume and textural interest to the basic wreath form, and I found tinker-bell green glittered mini fronds, plus some gold and green glittered faux eucalyptus. Fill and texture... check!

Icy-blue berry sprays accomplished another thing I love to do with wreaths... provide a bridge between man-made and botanical.

Mid-way through my shopping trip, I realized the palette was looking maybe a little too "Barbie's Dream Wreath," and I wasn't sure the wreath would look Christmas-y enough. But how to keep it wintry and seasonal? Snowflakes, and THE shopping score... fuchsia jinglebells! (Jingebells find their way into almost every wreath I've ever made.)

And, I wasn't sure all the colors were working... but on my last stop, another score... beaded ornaments, looking a bit like the proverbial sugar plums (Hey! Sugarplum Fairies!! NOW we're on to something!) had just about every color in all the other pieces, suddenly making sense of the whole palette (a lot like the way pillows, area rug or a piece of art can tie a room's worth of décor together).

And they were plastic-based, not glass (I also have to remind myself with every purchase that this wreath has to safely ship, but I could not resist the "soap bubble" ornaments. The teardrop-shaped ornaments have a more sturdy shape and thicker composition, so they should make the trip just fine.) Stay tuned for how it all comes together!

Interested in other tips on how to pull a wreath together? Check here!

Friday, December 16, 2011

…about artfully gifted Friends: top 20 Christmas gifts… without ever leaving Facebook (sort of).

My Facebook friends, I am delighted to say, are a gifted and crafty lot. So much so, I realized today, in full last-minute and full-tilt Christmas prep mode, I could build a pretty amazing shopping list solely from among their offerings… and (almost) without ever even leaving Facebook.

In no particular order (and terribly unscientific in its inclusion or exclusion), here are my Top 21 Facebook Friends Christmas Gift List, 2011. It’s more a gift giving resource than a Wish List, but, Santa, if you’re reading, there's not much I'd say No to...

1. Blake Little, Photographer - In the Company of Men

Blake’s book, In the Company of Men, takes you deep in the heart of Bear country (sorry, Sarah, not that kind of Grizzly), and shatters the Gay stereotype every furry inch of the way. Aside from being a book of stunning portraits (proving that masculinity comes from some place separate than sexual orientation), it’s an assembly of the kind of Gay men I wish would get the chance to look more Republiticians squarely in the eye and be told they deserve fewer rights than anyone else, for who they are, or who they choose to love. THAT'S a debate I would watch.

2. Dave Calver, Illustrator, Sculptor

Children’s books, subway cars and editorial pages have been graced by the work of this Palm Springs-based illustrator, and while his sweet snowmen and 6 Train rabbits are familiar to many, he has a darker side that remains buoyant but never sinister. Well, not truly sinister. His work is inspired by a wide variety of sources… vintage travel posters, film noir, and comic books. Canvasses, prints and objects are all gift-ready for purchase. Find his work here and here.

What do you have in common with a woman who lives with her family on a vibrant working farm in rural Iowa? Far more than you'd probably guess. I discovered this wonderful writer on the pages of Country Home, where her “Slow Lane” column frequently brought a tear, always a laugh, and a remarkable portrait of what happens to your life when you just notice it. The American answer to All Creatures Great and Small. She's now writing her latest "Slow Lane" for Country Gardens magazine, so use the book to get up to speed.

4. Todd Parr, Illustrator - “My Underwear” App

Todd is a big bear of a man with a BIG heart, and a charming, easy style. His work has appeared on Sesame Street, books and t-shirts, and now, a wildly popular app on iTunes… “My Underwear.” Todd knows that keeping the silly in things is a way to get kids to pay attention, and this, like all his work, is vibrant, cute but never condescending, and delightfully engaging. While it’s a totally kids App, I know a few adults who’d be enthralled with it when Angry Birds proves too infuriating.

5. Summer Rae Ruegger, Loopsy Daisy; Handknit Hats

The very definition of “cottage industry,” and a happy "do what you love" fable, Loopsy Daisy grew from one woman knitting outrageously adorable caps… dragons, owls, turkeys and other goblins… some from the wool provided by the customer’s own sheep!… for her Facebook friends. Made-to-order, and oh-so-cute. And, um, until a few months ago, she had never picked up a knitting needle. You’d NEVER know it, and she couldn’t be sweeter, or deserve the success more.

6. Louie Palu, Photojournalist

From the edge of the world and the heat of battle, Louie Palu documents the atrocities of war with an artist’s eye and poet’s spirit. If there exists in you any doubt that a documentarian’s work is not Art, this work will prove you wrong. On top of the importance of his work… putting a face to “military maneuvers,” Louie (aka "Turbo Santa") is a funny, articulate (a GIFTED writer), and extremely well-liked man, and I covet the portraits in his “Afghanistan: Garmsir Marines” series. His work is, thankfully, being seen more and more in galleries on his home Canadian turf and here in the States.

7. Carol O’Malia, Painter

Ever since I met Carol in Freshman Foundation at RISD, I've known her to laugh well, infectiously, and often, often concealing the fact she is a serious painter, bringing contemporary edge (and wonderful painting craft) to domestic subjects on large-scale canvases that feel both photographic and painterly. She has a way of capturing summer and other moments that remain universally familiar, but with the bittersweet charms of memory.

8. Damon Crain, Culture Object, Vintage Glass

As pretty as it is, don’t call it decorative… although a piece (or two or three) from the respected collections of Damon Crain, at Culture Object, would certainly make a room, and make the decorator’s job much easier. Although some pieces of his largely Blenko glass collection are aspirational in price, most are well within reach, especially considering their importance, condition… and Mr. Crain’s passion for accuracy and aesthetic.

9. Justin Spring, Author - Secret Historian

Last year’s Christmas gift from my sister was a copy of Justin’s “Secret Historian: The Life and Times of Samuel Steward, Professor, Tattoo Artist and Sexual Renegade” and it introduced me to a fascinating character, friend to Gertrude Stein and Tom of Finland among many others, and offered insight into a time (NOT long ago) where tattooing, privately displaying erotic art and the suspicion alone of "homosexual activity" could land you in jail. Justin, and this book, led me to my first visit to the Museum of Sex, but that's another post entirely. Although they do have a great gift shop...!

10. Eric Barclay, Illustrator, Painter, Blogger, What-not Maker

Eric’s retro-style channels the work of iconic illustrator Charley Harper (that's Eric's "He's Watching You" hiding Santa card design waaaay up top), but it’s his upcycled painted containers and cast-offs that bring his work to delightful 3D, with one-of-a-kind "what nots." Being green has never been so colorful, unless you count…

11. Steven Wine, Lighting Designer, ABYU Lighting - Bottle Lamps

I want to live in the world populated by the happy, kooky, and finely-feathered critters from the imagination of lighting designer Steven Wine, of “And Bob’s Your Uncle" (ABYU) Lighting. They were recently shouted-out by none other than Whoopi Goldberg, and recycling has never been more charming or illuminating. If you’re feeling a bit more generous, his couture-inspired bespoke light fixtures aren’t too shabby, either.

12. Kate Endle, Kate Endle Collage

Embrace the cute. The work of Kate Endle is charming, warm (thanks to fabric snippets and an earthy palette) and fresh. Her Hippo and Owl Magnets for iPop, via Etsy, are all but wrapped and ready to stuff a stocking.

13. Margaret Pettee Olsen, Painter

A world of art in every canvas… Margaret seems to draw from art history itself… from the caves of Lascaux to the canvases of Pollock. You can also trace her roots as a one-time dancer and printmaker (for the likes of Motherwell, De Kooning and Stella). She builds intriguing surfaces by impregnating the work with metal pigments, creating pieces that are deep, light-reactive, lush and rich, with a commanding scale and color range. From affordable to aspirational in gift-level pricing (based largely on size), appreciated as a gift, surely appreciating in value as more and more discover the work of this talented RISD grad (one of THREE RISDoids on this list!)

14. Deb Kracht, Arthead Studio

Scrapheads, Metal heads, Babybots and Cutups… the names are as fun to say as the pieces are to look at... and collect. Massachusetts artist Deb Kracht finds the beauty and whimsy in scraps and fragments, and then finds a way to use the scraps from making THOSE. Nothing goes to waste, and the pieces have an outsider art cachet with give-it-away prices.

15. Levi Kreis, Musician

Give the gift of music, and get your Levi on. Levi Kreis is a soulful singer/songwriter worthy of note on those merits alone. But he’s also become a role model to me, for his open Out life and an (almost) do-it-yourself marketing and record-making strategy that has served the strapping Tennessee’n well, using Kickstart and social media to create records and garner a loyal, engaged audience that follows him to Joe’s Pub, the Broadway stage (originating the role of Jerry Lee Lewis in Million Dollar Quartet) and beyond. And, in the true spirit of iTunes, people who bought Levi also bought…

16. Eric Himan, Musician

He’s here, he’s Out, he’s tattooed and he’s talented. He’s found his way to regular airplay on Sirius Coffee House, and his latest work, “Save the Afternoon” from the album Supposed Unknown, could charm the pants off me... er, um, YOU... for its slow romantic Indie sound. A talented songwriter, Eric also does a mean rendition, and his Gay perspective gives the songs he covers (like Adele's "Someone Like You") an incredible new facet. He also has an one-stop shopping online store, and is partnering with Urban Humanity to sell t-shirts. Did I mention he’s cute? Like Levi, Eric’s is NOT a face for radio, so make sure to download all cover art. Or better yet, see him in person. This OK boy gets around. O.K. by me.

17. Matte Stephens, Illustrator, Painter

Okay, so apparently I know a lot of illustrators, but even if I didn’t, Matte would make the list of giftable, giveable work. I once built a nursery scheme around his retro-freshing work, a lovely menagerie featuring wise owls, noble lions, and party cats. His pieces have a wonderful narrative quality, like stills from an animated movie that you'd love to see the end of. His palette is of special note… those hard-to-describe colors that give his art depth and soul. He’s also a favorite of Jonathan Adler, the peddler of Happy Chic.

18. Mitchell Gold, Furniture Purveyor, Activist, Author - “Crisis

Mitchell Gold is best known as the first half of Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams, the made-in-America furniture company with a conscience, putting green practices, social responsibility and employee benefits (like onsite childcare) at the top of their To Do list (alongside "Make gorgeous furniture") But Mitchell is also a compelling, tireless and passionate activist, speaking out about Marriage Equality and casting light on Faith-based discrimination against the LGBT community. His book, Crisis lets successful Gay men and women tell the story of what it was like growing up Gay in America, and it is eye opening. If you’re feeling generous, send a copy to your local High School library. If you’re feeling generous AND glamorous, order a copy of his (with co-author Bob Williams) newest book, The Comfortable Home. And NOT just because Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams was a generous donor to my virgin voyage into Design on a Dime waters.

19. David Leaser, Photographer - "Night Flowers"

Trippy, surreal, larger than life: It’s what happens when David Leaser faces nature head on and lets scale and color do the heavy lifting. The end results are painterly (he prints the gicleés on canvas), striking, scientifically detailed and nearly-abstract. David’s work has captured praise and pages in national magazines like Architectural Digest, and flown off the walls of galleries around the nation. If you’ve not enough wallspace for one of David’s large graphic botanicals, you can purchase note cards, desk size pieces, and books. See (and buy!) his work in New York at DESIGNLUSH.

20. GLAAD - the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation

Get GLAAD for the holidays. It’s not technically a gift, but it seems fitting to end the list with an encouragement to consider charitable giving at this most wonderful time of the year. I am proud to call Mike Thompson, the Acting President of GLAAD, a Friend, and I am a big fan of him as a person, and of the organization which he heads. GLAAD is the media and cultural watchdog, Gay rights champion, and activism resource for marriage equality and repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. Representing the LGBT community in all its colorful diversity is never easy (or without the community's vocal opinion), but GLAAD has stayed true to its mission that “words and images matter” and seems to be hitting its stride at the perfect time: ahead of a national election year.

Feel free to list names and links to your most creative friends offering gift-giving options that are all just a click— or a friendship-- away. Happy holidays to all!

Get Social: Find Todd Parr, Kate Endle, David Leaser, Eric Barclay, Arthead Studio, GLAAD, Mitchell Gold, Matte Stephens, Eric Himan, Levi Kreis, Louie Palu, Blake Little and Loopsy Daisy on Facebook.