24 November 2016

It's been a long time...

It's been a long time since I've been to BloggerLand! And it feels so unfamiliar—either that, or things have actually changed. 

I've been working continuously/almost non-stop to launch my new online design studio, StudioMilledisegni. And what a ride it has been; after months of planning, designing, researching, inventing, editing, learning—you name it—I am finally ready to begin sharing all that I have been working on.

One of the most difficult things about a new adventure like this is that you never feel you are ready...so many ideas/wishes remain unrealized. My inclination was to keep broadening the range of designs and items that I wanted to offer, and throughout the last year I have waffled between thinking "it's still not enough!" and "wow—look how far I have come." I'm sure anyone who has ever gone through a similar experience can relate to the extremes of emotions (as well as the sheer exhaustion). Being the kind of person who enjoys handling every aspect of her projects, I found myself thriving from the challenge, but oftentimes it all felt like way too much for one person.

It almost seems like a miracle that this day actually arrived; a few things checked off today's to-do list should have been addressed months ago! And others have yet to be done—I couldn't believe it when the studio went quiet (suddenly there was no music) and my computer screen went blank. A moment later a message appeared, saying that my computer had "encountered a problem" and needed to be restarted...so part of a very busy day's work was lost (haven't we all been there?). And then there was the sun that failed to appear during my final photo session for the cards. This means I will be re-photographing them, but at least there was enough light to convey the gist (one of the photos is shown at the top of this post). I would have loved to put together some tutorials and free downloads...and finish the many designs still in progress, but for now, it is time to launch StudioMilledisegni in its fledgling form!

I am beginning a new blog over at the StudioMilledisegni website, but may post the entries over here as well for the moment. I've been enjoying Instagram-ing lately, but continue to find it quite limiting in terms of giving context to the images (and I do miss writing!). It's often occurred to me to post my favorite IG photos here and "expand" on them a bit. We shall see!

And one thing is sure—I have missed visiting other blogs these past many months. I hope to be making the rounds soon!

17 March 2016

Daily measures II

And the "Daily measures" practice continues... Above are January's (left-hand pages) & February's (center section) completed, with the first half of March's lines weaving their little stories through the third accordion booklet on the right.

The February "chapter" is entitled Settling——not in the negative sense of having to settle for less than one deserves, but rather in the way that all of January's "possibility" finally began to settle...to find some kind of shape & rhythm. Or at least as much rhythm as one experiences in the constantly evolving creative space that a studio typically is...

As were January's, the strips of paper for February came from a variety of sources: trimmings from projects, packaging, mail, extra prints, bits & pieces that turn up around the studio, etc. The choice of orange for the title & footers was inspired by its presence in all shapes & forms... I had never realized how apt it is as a color for February, but with the kilos of oranges that were welcomed into our kitchen & my February tradition of orange freesias brightening up the studio (not to mention daily tea in an orange pot & mug!), I enjoyed an extra dose of my favorite color. And I found that it's an ideal choice for keeping spirits lifted through February's gray days...

I mentioned last month that I would try indenting the "Mondays," in order to help distinguish the weeks from one another, but I forgot as I was cutting the slits. March's Mondays, however, are indented (as you will see when I post them once the month is over).

A couple of things have surprised me about this daily practice so far. One is how much time, between the preparation & conclusion phases, the whole process actually takes; and it's easy to get distracted by all the papers each day! While some of the strips are quickly chosen & trimmed to size, sometimes I use multiple layers of paper or otherwise "customize" them. It has also highlighted for me how easily my mind skips ahead with new ideas; already I am plotting ways to adapt & build upon the daily strip/line concept. But it feels more important to stay with my original plan, and fortunately I am finding great satisfaction in what is beginning to seem like a fairly substantial accumulation of "story lines."



I hope that life is good in everyone's studios, kitchens, gardens, reading chairs, & other favorite places...

14 March 2016

A little of this; a little of that

It feels like I am finally settling into the whole Instagram-ing routine. Once again, I have collected the latest images that I've shared there, beginning with the most recent above, mostly shots taken out & about in Florence. The exception is the top center image, which shows another set of cards featuring one of my prototype designs for Studio Milledisegni; these nature-inspired greens are printed on kraft cardstock (though the sunshine has made it appear brighter/less "kraft-y").

On the subject of kraft paper, which I tend to gravitate toward, it seems to have become a bit of a theme around here lately. As well as the card design test prints, it showed up in the form of a dozen lovely notebooks by Artway & in the packaging of a handful of loose leaf teas (top three images below).

The middle trio was inspired by the completely different views as I looked west, then east, while crossing Ponte Santa Trìnita one evening.

The bottom row——a few images from my last trip to NYC——I posted in honor of my recent website update/renovation. The new website has a section devoted to photography, and NYC is one of the evolving "branches." I had always meant to post some images of Manhattan here on the blog, but had a hard time with the sifting & sorting process...there are so many I'd like to share! These are perhaps some rather "quiet" selections, but they are among my favorites——as much for their patterns/palette as for the memories...


This next set of nine records February's presence of orange: all of the oranges we've been eating + some gorgeous freesias on the studio table——they seem to have become a February tradition. The middle row shows off some of the gorgeous ribbons I recently ordered from Angela Liguori's Studio Carta + a view of the Arno that seemed to mirror the copper-y shades of ribbon. The bottom row includes a few shots from a photoshoot during the latest testing of my salted caramel recipe...


The next nine:

The top center image is another variation on a Studio Milledisegni prototype I have been experimenting with, and I liked how the colors of that gorgeous foliage on the left seemed to have inspired the palette for the cards (maybe subconsciously; it's one of my favorite plants to photograph at the local rose garden). The right image shows the late afternoon light shortly before it left the southeast corner of Ponte Vecchio one blue-skied day.

In the middle row is my first issue of Uppercase magazine, enjoyed with a blood orange juice spremuta; some particularly colorful confetti during carnevale in the center; and a small homage in honor of Laura Ingalls Wilder's birthday, including the first of the paperwhite blooms.

The bottom row shows January's Daily Measures, which you may have seen in a past blog post (I'll post February's shortly), along with some of the story lines/strips that inspired the Daily Measures & another "line/strip" experiment with the weaving of seaweed at the beach a couple of summers ago.

And here is one last set of three...

I have not been happy with my results using the Derwent Graphitint pencils that I bought over a year ago, but I did enjoy making a pencil "poem" with them one day. I like, too, that the photo continues the theme of "lines" that I so enjoy exploring. It came about one day when the colors with names of things you can eat & drink leapt out at me:
Port in a Storm
 Port [in a]
I am happy to say that the rather muted pencils do create a lovely effect on the kraft paper pages of my new notebooks! Maybe this is the way to go....

The center photo shows a late afternoon view from Ponte Vecchio, with the Uffizi and its reflection on the left——I love the birds flying off into the distance. Where to, I wonder?

On the lower right is a tea box that my daughter put together for a friend's birthday...it was fun to help her outfit it and package up the contents with bits & pieces from around the studio. I love how she even "stained" the box with some leftover tea/coffee/gouache that I'd used to paint some journal pages. Re-recycling!


I will continue to gather my photos from Instagram here at intervals; though they cover only a small part of what makes up my days, I always enjoy reconsidering these snippets... In the meanwhile, please let me know if you have an Instagram account; I would love to see how it figures into your life!


08 February 2016

Daily Measures I

In January I began a small daily practice: "Daily Measures." The roots of the idea came from my "Story Strips/Lines," which you may remember encountering here once in a while. For this new practice, I am choosing a "line" of paper (1x10cm) that reflects some part of the day...a moment, an event, a theme, an emotion, the weather, a project I'm working on——it can be anything, really. Most of the strips have been found in the basket of paper trimmings that I've been using for paper-weaving, many of which are left over from past projects; others are taken from test prints, or packaging I love/save.

The lines of paper are each woven into an accordion book that I have prepared at the beginning of the month. These accordions are made of lovely Fabriano Artistico, a paper with a hint of warmth, a touch of texture & deckles along the edges. I create slits through which I weave the strips; as the pages fill up, the lines create visual text blocks. The images shown here are for January, which is titled "Possibility." I began the month with mainly white strips, which symbolized the fresh start to the year...the blank page, a blank canvas, new lists. 

Ultimately, nine centimeters of each line remain visible, and the "tails" can be seen from behind. At some point I might affix them with a stitch or adhesive. And I may also bind the accordions——to each other, as well linking the pages within each one, so that the effect is more like a traditional binding. The main reason I chose the accordion structure is so that I could conceal the woven ends of the strips, but I'm not sure that I want such an unwieldy accordion at the end of the year...

There are also slits for a "footer" at the bottom of each page. For January's I typed the small Roman numeral "i" but I'm hoping to come up with an alternative (one benefit to their not being permanently fixed yet); it's too much like page numbering, which of course would actually be consecutive numbers. I may also end up indenting/shortening the lines I use for Mondays, to distinguish the weeks from one another——creating paragraphs of sorts. In any case, I'm enjoying the process of experimenting; for a handful of days I have typed words on to the strips, and a couple of times I have tried layering multiple strips. Who know where I will end up by the end of the year!


So, February's accordion is starting to fill up nicely now...I will take a few photos to post here once the month has ended. (How is it possible that 2016 is already moving along so quickly?) Happy new moon + Year of the Monkey to all of you!

29 January 2016

How to Instagram (Or at least one instagram-er's thoughts on the subject)


During my unintentional hiatus from blogging last summer I often found myself wondering why I couldn't seem to pull together a post. For one thing, summer has its own special rhythm, and there are things like visitors & traveling to make space for. But as the hot weeks continued to flutter pastlike book pages sent turning uncontrollably by a mischievous windweeks became months, and I realized that I was rethinking several things, including why I blog.

Ultimately, it's because I want to share with others—mainly all that I find so beautiful about this world/creative life. But it seems to take me an inordinate amount of energy to collect images & thoughts and synthesize them into a post that feels worthwhile enough for you to take the time to read; there are already so many people out there who have the routine of blogging down beautifully; they know how to say so much with few words, or a single photograph. I've been feeling overwhelmed by all the competition, for lack of a better word...and, with posts that aren't regular enough to attract or reach a very big audience, I have found myself asking what I actually bring to the tableand who is still sitting there. And I've been wondering if my resources should not be going instead toward more designing/creating/art-making, for which there is never enough time...

Enter Instagram. One reason I finally decided to get a smartphone was so I could participate in this new—and "instant"way of sharing. Well...! I don't think how I approach it could be called insta-anything, but I am having fun. And I'm happy to be sharing more than I have managed on my blog in recent months.

The irony is that the process is still fairly time-consuming for me. Despite having a pretty decent camera on the phone, I find I am now posting mostly images from my Nikon; they tend to be so much better. (Though there are exceptions.) Since I was inclined to upload my phone photos onto the computer before posting anyway (the screen, while huge compared to that of my old phone, is still too small to for me to register all the details), at least it's no longer two extra steps. I know that the typical instagram-er is usually seeing phone-sized images, but I like to have a full sense of what I'm posting. Plus I enjoy seeing how the photos look together...which leads me to my next idiosyncrasy. I've been posting sets of three all at once, and with some kind of commonality (perhaps noticeable only to me!usually by color/shape/composition); that way the arrangement makes some sense as a whole when viewed in a web browser. Never mind that most people see the images on their phones, one at a time, and mixed up in between the latest from all of the people they follow!

Which brings me to another thing that I can't quite get a handle on—how is it possible to give the attention due to all of the photos that are posted every day? Even with the relatively small number of accounts I have started to follow, I struggle to keep up; when I miss a day or two, the quantity of content that's appeared is astounding. When it comes down to it, I think that the very essence of social media simply befuddles me. For someone whose nature is to contemplate & to savor, it is actually a very non-native experience. (Clearly there are deeper issues going on here!) Yet, despite these "challenges," I do love all that I discover through other people's photos.

So, while I acknowledge the mis-alignment with my slowly-evolving/gradual/process-driven way of creating & sharingand my resistance to being "smart" about instagram-ing (i.e. posting one image at a time, multiple times a day, as seems to be the norm)I am finding my own way. There are numerous reasons why we each choose to take & share pictures; personally, I consider it a way to learn—an essential element of my creative journey—so I will let that continue to guide me. I would love to hear how the rest of you are navigating the world of Instagram/social media if you are inclined to elaborate!

I realize that I've ended up going on a bit of a rant here, when really I just wanted to collect some of my Instagram photos into a sort of "catch-up" blog post. And so here are the ones I've chosen, with descriptions/notes...

The group of six at the top of the page are the most recent, and include some card designs for Studio Milledisegni (my new design studio, which will launch this fall, and also the name of my Instagram account); a couple of Arno reflections; and the Blackwing 602 pencils that I love (just a opened a fresh new box of 12).

Among the next nine are this year's crop of paperwhite bulbs, as well as some updated photos for my website, which has been undergoing a much-needed "renovation": One of my cityscape paintings; a view of Four Rooms of One's Own, an artist's book I created in 2010; and some shots of Mise en place, my BookArtObject title (you may remember this from various blog posts in 2014...it will finally be getting a proper page on my new website).


Next are a couple more Arno reflections, as well as new incarnations of my Elements of Peace project; some of you may recall the copper leaves that I made in honor of International Peace Day in September 2014 (and will recognize some of the images below). On behalf of others, I have continued to add new leaves to the olive tree at the local rose garden, and the concept has been extended to some personal projects recently. My daughter & I chose six words each to type on to leaves for our Christmas tree (bottom-right image)—we took turns randomly drawing one on each of the "Twelve Days of Christmas"and I also made a special set for my nephews in Sydney.


The next group of nine = some winter-in-Florence photos, including preparations for our winter solstice celebration (lots of white candles & streamers + pears for a caramel-y pear tart tartin). The bottom-left image is our "Christmas" tree before we decorated it. After years of struggling with how to address the Christmas tree issue (I love having a real one, but feel terrible sacrificing a whole tree for the sake of enjoying that glorious pine scent for a month)—we invented alternatives with paper/books in the last few yearsI finally decided to get a simple twig-y tree that is bare except for LED "berries." In the spring we hope to move our copper leaves to the olive tree at the rose garden & cover our twig-y tree with tissue paper cherry blossoms...maybe it will wear something new each season, though I also love the simplicity of just the lights. As the winter solstice approached, it seemed a perfect symbol for the way I like to go into a new year: bare & uncluttered, after shedding the weight that builds up over the course of the year.



For this next set of photos we are reaching back to November... First are items I've been working on for Studio Milledisegni (business cards, labels, designs). The top-right image marks the completion of just over 50,000 words for National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo). We are still eating tons (kilos!) of the gorgeous bright clementines—can't seem to get enough—and roasting whatever vegetables are on hand. The bottom row was from Thanksgiving; my daughter came home with a handful of gorgeous leaves, which gave her the idea to bake leaf-shaped & other autumn-y cookies.


This set of six below was inspired by the Foo Fighters—I loved the cover of the EP they released (a free download) soon after our visit to Bologna to see them live. Top-right is my favorite stage lights moment of the performance by Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avenue, the awesome opening act for the FFs. (And I thought the sky at sunset in Piazza Pitti, top-center, rivaled the concert lights!) For my daughter's birthday, I made a typography poster featuring a quote of Dave Grohl's (frontman for the FFs), and the bottom-center illustration was a gift for me from my daughter (a much-younger Dave Grohl, surrounded by FF lyrics). I had fun making a double-F pendant from copper wire, which I wore to the concert (instead of the typical music-themed t-shirt!); you might be able to make it out in the bottom-right photo.


Six more: "Halloween" candy; writing-themed books & my Olivetti Lettera 22 marking the kick-off of NaNoWriMo + small pleasures from the plant & produce markets...


Reaching all the way back to mid-October: Chilies of all levels of hot (and not) + the Arno + persimmons = autumn light at its best...


And, last for now: A handful of pictures from an outing to the weekly plant & flower market, including a gorgeous bouquet of dahlias + preparations for zucchini muffins + test prints for Studio Milledisegni notebook covers + a grapevine catching the sun (I was loosely following a green theme for these)...


So, hopefully that's given you a chance to see what I've been looking at through my lens these last few months. Thanks for catching up with me here! I do miss writing about the photos I take (one doesn't have the feeling of there being much space on Instagram and, with the swift turnover & sheer volume, I don't think people are much in the mindset for reading). Blogger definitely allows more flexibility, and "breathing space"... And, as always when I come back, I realize how much I miss seeing what everyone else is up to over here. I am looking forward to doing some catching up in the next few days...

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