Sunday, November 13, 2016

Looking Forward

Sometimes events in the world make it difficult to feel positive about the future. I'm a firm believer in trying to make the best of it though, and, when all else fails, at least looking forward to something that is a positive force.

In the spirit of looking (way) forward, Future Library, is a 100-year project by Norwegian artist Katie Paterson. I first heard about this amazing project last year from Make:. "A thousand trees have been planted in Nordmarka, a forest just outside Oslo, which will supply paper for a special anthology of books to be printed in one hundred years time. Between now and then, one writer every year will contribute a text, with the writings held in trust, unpublished, until 2114."

The project pulls together so many elements that are important to me: art, reading, paper, nature, and collaboration. Not to mention leaving a positive legacy...such an inspiration. Find and celebrate what inspires you.

Katie Paterson, Future Library

Monday, October 24, 2016

Feather Fondness

I'll be the first to admit that I'm not too fond of birds. Between the pooping on everything, the weird dinosaur connection, and the territorial mockingbirds attacking my sweet dog in the yard, birds are not my favorite of creatures. But feathers...that's a different story.

Feathers are incredible and beautiful. The science behind feathers is fascinating. They are integral to the flight of birds, adapting and adjusting "on the fly." Their color provides some of the most beautiful palettes in nature. The various hues can protect the bird from predators, ward off bacteria, help to attract a mate, and even regulate hormones. Whenever the lines of form and function merge so wonderfully, I'm intrigued.

Bird of Paradise, photo by Robert Clark

Quetzal, photo by Robert Clark

Lyre Bird, photo by Robert Clark

Golden Breasted Starling, photo by Robert Clark

Monday, October 10, 2016

Goals = Opportunities

Sometimes your life gets turned upside-down. It's not always our choice, but we can choose how we react to the upheaval. I choose to focus on the goals and opportunities surrounding the changes in my life. As part of this, I've been thinking a lot about my business: where I want it go, how I want it to grow, and what I want to create. There are so many great resources out there to help with this...and it's time to revisit some of my favorites as I think about my goals for Pele.

As a reader, one of my go-to resources is (of course) a book. Years ago, my friend and teacher gave me an incredible book, Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg. I consider this a must read for all women in business. She faces the issues of women in the workplace head on, acknowledging all of the factors of education, patriarchy, family, feminism, leadership, and goal setting. It's encouraging to read a successful woman's take on issues that so many women face throughout their work life.

Grace Bonney from Design Sponge is one of my favorite inspirational business women. As part of her 100 episode podcast series, After the Jump, she tackled the topic of "The 12 Things I Wish I'd Known When I started My Business." Starting off, Grace says that she's inspired by her mistakes and things that have gone wrong. They truly are learning opportunities. As I look at my goals for the studio, it helps to be reminded of some of her tidbits of knowledge:
  • Ask for what you want
  • Dream big
  • Trust your gut
  • Learn to say no
  • Be proud and promote
  • Embrace change

Another great goal-oriented business tool I've found helpful is a model by Charlie Gilkey for The 3 Goals of Any Business Activity. He points out that any business activity should fall into at least one of three categories: generating cash flow, generating opportunities, and generating visibility. "As a quick hint, if it’s not clear how an activity in your business leads to one of the goals above, it’s time to determine whether you should continue to do that activity." So true.

As I look at what I've created at Pele and what my goals are for the future, I'm always aware that it takes a village. I'm so thankful to the people who help me reach my goals and bring out the best in me. Mom, Carly, Maryanne, Dad, Gary, all of the great Pele artists, and so many more...I couldn't do this without you! Let's do this.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Geometry and Architecture

Simple geometry can be so beautiful. With my interest in art, design, and architecture, I find myself always looking for and responding to patterns in the world around me. Some of these photos are from places I've visited...some are from places I hope to visit someday. But they are all amazing examples of how geometric lines and patterns can create beauty in our world.

Diamond Island Community Hall Interior, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

Diamond Island Community Hall Exterior, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

High Trestle Trail Bridge, Madrid, IA

Stan Musial Veterans Memorial Bridge, St. Louis, MO

Thorncrown Chapel Interior, Eureka Springs, AK

Thorncrown Chapel Exterior, Eureka Springs, AK

Istiqlal Mosque, Jakarta, Indonesia

Monday, August 29, 2016

The Treehouse Project

With two amazing nephews (not that I'm biased), the idea of a treehouse has crossed my mind more than once. And every now and then I need a good excuse to build/make something that isn't a print. Enter my youngest nephew's birthday this Spring. As I started searching the interwebs for inspiration, I came across some amazing structures. With my interest in architecture and natural spaces, one of my favorites is this sweet wooden treehouse pod in Whistler, Canada designed by Joel Allen.

HemLoft treehouse, Joel Allen

Alas, after talking to my brother-in-law about it, I realized that a full-sized treehouse was not meant to be right now. A girl can still dream though. So I started looking at miniature options. After seeing the incredible creations from artist Jedediah Voltz, I decided I could make something small and unique.

Somewhere Small, Jedediah Voltz

So I set out designing a tree-play-doll-house. After lots of trial and error, collecting of materials, and a fair amount of wood glue, I finished! It's complete with woodland friends, a winding staircase, rope ladder, and bucket for sharing goodies between levels. And best of all, both of my nephews love it.

Thursday, June 2, 2016

Printmaking 101

When I tell people I'm a printmaker, it's often followed by the question, "What's that?" My short and sweet answer is that it's playing with big stamps. In truth, it's so much more than that. When you start learning about prints, the jargon, techniques, and terms can be overwhelming—photogravure, pochoir, serigraph, mezzotint, collagraph, linocut. And that's just scratching the surface (pun intended, for all you fellow printers). But when you break it down, all of these fancy names and techniques fall into just a few categories.

There are four main categories for traditional printmaking: relief, intaglio, lithography, screenprint. I would say that digital printing is the modern fifth category as well. I'm not sure where this image originated, but I love how concisely it visually represents these four categories.

If you would like to learn more about how all of this printmaking business works, MoMA has a super interactive guide that walks you through the basics for each process.

Monday, February 8, 2016

Winter Wonderland

Nature and art. Both beautiful, both inspiring. Even though Winter is my least favorite season, I can still celebrate the good things it has to offer. And snowflakes just might be the best.

Compound Interest's Andry Brunning created the chart above to show the 39 classifications for snowflakes. The shapes and visual complexity are incredible. To learn more than you could ever imagine on the subject of snowflakes, check out