papercuts that feel great

The stellar images above were created by artist Nikki McClure. Based in Olympia, Washington, Nikki carves these vibrant graphics from a single sheet of paper using only an Exact-o knife. Once I learned about their genesis, my appreciation for their detail only delighted me further - what an amazing undertaking...

A friend of mine sent me a note card with the 'Return' papercut last year and it has been on my desk ever since [ thanks, Jean ! ].... The series above is sold as a set of 6 posters, each 14" x 18", for only $24.95 at buyolympia.com.

Cinders Gallery wrote the bio on her website :
"Her work depicts the virtues of hard labor and patience, which is inherent in her process as well as in the images themselves: weathered hands washing dishes, people sweeping, mothers caring for their babies, and farmers working the land. But there is also a large element of celebration, of taking the time to roll around in the grass and get wet from the early morning dew. The need for all of us to lay down on the ground, grab hold of the earth, look at the stars and dream. She magnifies the importance of simple things, like the change of seasons, slowing down the world for a moment so we can actually taste it. "


Shelly Steffee

While New York's Meatpacking District assembles glitterati designers like Louboutin, McQueen + McCartney, one of its more down-to-earth shining stars is the very talented Shelly Steffee. I can hardly describe her work better than she does on her glimmering site... in fact, the Flash greeting sums it up quite nicely, as illustrated above... Steffee's appreciation of line, balanced with hue and keen proportion come alive in corporal form in her timeless fashion collection. Born, raised + studied in Philadelphia [ yay, philly ladies ! ], Steffee's boutique at 34 Gansevoort Street has been a design destination since 2001.

Loop is honored to be part of her studio store's diverse repertoire, which includes J Schatz Egg Banks, Cromono slippers, Siebensachen Mozart Musical Boxes, Melissa Plastic Dreams footwear, and Marcus Huemer, along with her own eponymous Home and Jewelry lines [ shown below ].

Learn more about Shelly's philosophy in this video interview :


When I think of woodblock prints, my mind instantly floods with the canonical image of Hokusai's wave, shown above. [ The Great Wave Off Kanagawa, from Thirty Six Views of Mount Fuji, 1823 - 1829 ].

Lately, however, I've been reading up about traditional printing techniques and came across some other artists and prints that are extraordinary - and some that are almost contemporary... The print below is from Takeji Asano [ 1900 - 1999 - what a lifetime !!! ]. Moonlight at Wakanoura, Wakayama, was created in 1953, but not likely printed until the 1960's or '70's. I love the way the lights are portrayed here - the cutout shape the moonlight forms in the sky and the directional beacons the lanterns etch from the water.

[ courtesey hanga gallery, www.hanga.com, $250.00 for 10" x 15" oban print ]

[ courtesey hanga gallery, http://www.hanga.com/ , $850.00 for 9.5" x 10" shikishiban print ]

Kawase Hasui, Himeji Castle, 1930, from limited edition of 200 printed by Kato


ich ein Berliner

While I am very disheartened to learn that Moleskine notebooks are Made In China . . .[ always have been !!! ], I have to admit I am thrilled by what's happening to them in Germany at the moment. Dropboxes have been set up on various street corners in Berlin to receive creative notebook essays on the German city submitted by a range of creative people. This program, Detour, launched its annual exhibits in London in 2006, followed by New York '07 and Paris '08.

As the mission statement describes, entrants are invited "to invent an itinerary for an expedition, a map of a tour, a daily adventure, the discovery of something to look forward to, the beginning of a trip, the signs of well known or unknown visionary places, the exploration or the conquest of a region never visited before, as well as something in the city constantly seen and beloved. "

The chosen books from Berlin will be showed in Istanbul in the spring of 2009. Exhibitions are staged so that attendees may don white gloves and turn the pages of each notebook on display.

I highly recommend watching a few of the videos of artists turning the pages of their books. From the London archives I enjoyed this from Birgit Brenner :

The inked New York from London Illustrator Chris Dent is fantastic :

Stefano Faravelli's watercolor journey is worth taking :

Proceeds from Detour support letter27, a non-profit that supports literacy, education + access to information in parts of the world most in need. Some of their projects in Africa include WikiAfrica and WikiAfrica Art. Send a literary e-card while you're learning more about their amazing work, like this one from South African writer, editor + poet, Karen Press.


wonder weather

Philadelphia is being swept by gusty water-soaked winds and it's putting me in a very wistful mood. I have always been very influenced by the weather; growing up in rural Vermont, watching rain begin to pour out of the sky, changing the hue and depth of colors all around, classified as an 'activity'. [ don't laugh ! ]

So today, as I try to find some time in the studio to put together some new wrapping paper designs, I was drawn to the work of Arthur Rackham, beloved English Illustrator from the early part of the 20th century. Rackhams' prints accompanied works from the Brothers' Grimm, Edgar Allen Poe + Washington Irving [ of Rip Van Winkle fame ].

As described here by Jim Vadeboncoeur, Jr., publisher of Images, a magazine devoted to classic illustration : "He never lost the joy and sense of wonderment and he never gave in to the baser styles that fell in and out of favor over the years. From Queen Victoria's death in 1901 to the start of World War I, Rackham's illustrations preserved a lifestyle and a sensibility that kept the frighteningly modern future at bay. His beautiful drawings were the antithesis of the industrial advances that allowed them to be printed at affordable prices. Even into the twenties and thirties, his art was a constant reminder of those aspects of innocence that had been left behind. He always kept his gentle humor. . . "

TOP IMAGE : Hanging the Moon and Stars from Rip Van Winkle, by Arthur Rackham, 1905 : via ArtsyCraftsy.com

BOTTOM IMAGE : Peter Pan in Kensington Gardens: Fallen Leaf, Arthur Rackham : via ArtsyCraftsy.com


lost in uniqlo

Usually, I find surfing the web a rather static affair. I hop from image to image, reading a bit here and there, tracing my way through a string of things that are loosely, abeit but compellingly, connected. This evening, however, was tangled in a web of video that captivated me like a kitten with a ball of string. Streaming images from Japanese clothing house Uniqlo blur the lines between performance art and shopping cart, between visual essay and wow, that would look great on me in purple...

An alluring interplay of fabric, color, and form is presented in 5-second movement essays in Heat Tech Edition, Season Four.

Fly over Merino landscapes to sweet Japanese-colored jazz in Color is Comfort.

I was connected to these flights of fancy while reading the Archinect newletter that finds its way into my inbox every week. I was intrigued by their post about 'Giant Human Vending Machines'.

This brought me to the root article in New York Magazine, where a simple mouse-over on the main image told me that "Uniqlo [was] To Stage The Best Promotion Ever in Times Square."... So boogie on over there and find out why those young men are wearing silver suits and why you need to get your chilly little tush to Military Island on November 18th at 1pm.



Royally Ready for the Holidays

Take a heaping spoonful of upheaval in the financial markets, mix well with the change of seasons, cut in the cacaphony of the political scene and sprinkle with a dash of ' time flies ! ' and voila - ! No wonder my nostalgia is springing warm from the oven of my memory.
How I long to be at my parents' house this winter, nestled in the bosom of my green Vermont home cuddled white with snow... with my husband, my brother home from college, the sounds and smells and hugs of the holiday season all wrapping themselves in layers around me.
As I was losing myself in pages of Italian travel magazines this evening, I found these great illustrations from a Harpers' Weekly Christmas Edition from 1895. As the Rare Posters site describes, "Very scarce and early Maxfield Parrish front and back covers . . . The front is decorative and shows a baker, the back advertises Royal Baking Powder. ". I adore Maxfield Parish, and was delighted by the happy smile of the baker and the buoyant dough steaming with tasty goodness - not to mention the ornate yet balanced detail of rolling hils and quaint towns through the leaded windows in the background.
I don't know what I'm longing for more - the confection or the countryside . . .

Bon Vonage, Imaginary Me !

There is something about the Fall season that fills me with wanderlust. My mind can't quite focus, my feet carry me down streets I don't usually tread, and I find myself suddenly lost in my imagination.

This afternoon, instead of doing work for Loop, I turned down a couple of e-passageways and took a stroll online to find some images to soothe my yen for a voyage.

I found a fantastic collection of travel publications from the '30s, the covers of which beckoned the footloose to be fancy-free in a different region of Italy every month. Oh ! To be in lulled in Lido, romanced in Rome, treasure-hunting in Venice. . .

Please visit David Levine's amazing online repository of these images, and others from all over Europe . . .

FIRST : Travel Brochure for Venice, published in 1933 by the Ente Nazionale Industrie Turistische (ENIT - Italian State Tourist Department). Signed "Treves - Treccani - Tumminelli."
SECOND : Rome, 1933. Published by the Ente Nazionale Industrie Turistische (ENIT - Italian State Tourist Department) and the Ferrovia dello Stato (Italian State Railway). Unsigned, designed by "Novissima - Roma.
THIRD : Travel in Italy, 1934. Signed "Retrosl," designed by Pizzi & Pizio - Milano-Roma. From the Ente Nazionale Industrie Turistische (ENIT - Italian State Tourist Department).
FOURTH : Travel brochure for Venice Lido, 1934. Published by the City of Venice. Signed "Tanozzi," designed by "Tridentum - Trento," published by "Soc. Acc. Stamperia Zanetti - Venice."