PINTEREST CURATOR::JANE POTRYKUS

Ah, Jane, how I adore thee…I do, sincerely. When I create these boards I usually have to delve deep and create a word or phrase of what I believe sums up my fave curators style. Jane Potrykus is so efficient, so edited and such a class act that she has done that for me (and you). She has trademarked the term ‘Utilitarian Luxe’ and indeed that is her style to a ‘t’. I have been a Jane fan for many moons. In fact when I am designing my line I have a handful of dream ‘clients’ that I ask myself, ‘would _______ like this offering?’,  Jane is always top of mind. I love Jane’s pins because she also takes it to reality, where she will pin places she has either visited or will be visiting, it’s arm chair traveling at it’s finest. She has a board dedicated to coffee, which makes me smile , who else would be willing to curate the most beautiful places in the world to grab a cup? Do you see what I mean about Utilitarian Luxe being so perfectly fitting? Jane does veer towards minimalism, but she definitely has a great sense of humor and you will find elegant animal finds sprinkled throughout her pins in completely delightful ways. I urge you to visit her boards and discover some simple + pretty finds to add to your own inspiration archives.
P.S. Happy Halloween!

WINNERS + A NEW YORK BLACKOUT STORY

My apologies for being late on announcing the winners of the tiny vintage initial stamps. I have randomly chosen the above winners, except I did choose Acacia specifically because she assisted me with some great feedback to make my business better, so I think she deserves a little prize, no?  If you want to hear about my New Your Blackout experience read below (it has been edited down)…*
My heart goes out to the folks in New Jersey and New York. I was in NY during the last black out, at the airport mind you. I remember the lights flickered on and off at the terminal, myself and my fellow travelers had that instant of fear that it was another terrorist attack, it was to everyone’s relief  just a black out. The relief quickly passed when we realized we wouldn’t be going anywhere that day. It was one of those incredibly smoldering hot and sweaty NY afternoons, there were no cell phones, computers or any way to get yourself out of the situation and of course air conditioning wasn’t a consideration. I noticed out of the corner of my eye a very eccentrically dressed woman, head-to-toe pomp, topping her skull was a Kentucky Derby appropriate hat, not a JFK airport appropriate hat. I went outside to catch a cab back to the city, I waited outside 5 minutes, 10 minutes, 20 and so on.  The fancy hat lady, now sweating profusely dabbed at her face with a make-up soaked kerchief, she sidled up to me and said in a heavy perhaps Gypsy? accent, “You will never catch a cab, they closed the tunnel going into the city, no subways, you can’t even pump gas.”   I eyed her suspiciously as I had no cell reception and how was she getting this information? Her cell magically rang, she whispered some labored words into the phone and returned her attention to me.  “You are going to need a place to sleep, you can’t stay at the airport by yourself.” I considered this fact, but since there was no cabs in sight  I didn’t see a solution.  “You come home with me,” she demanded.  I don’t know about you, but I don’t usually talk to strangers let alone go home with them. I looked back at the airport terminal, my clothes sticky on my body and figured I could perhaps get a ride to Queens where she lived and catch a cab from there or find a hotel. Her friend picked us up, a complete New York caricature, I am sure his name was something like Tony or Johnny, I can’t remember now. The city was chaotic, you could see that from the road, people were actually walking in from Manhattan, walking! Unheard of, apocalyptic looking.  I knew there were no hotels to be had and that I was going to have to take this strangely dressed gypsy woman up on her offer to stay at her house. If there was ever a day that I may have never been heard from again it was the day I decided to go home with a Gypsy and her side kick ‘Tony’. It was getting late and we were all hungry and at this point I needed a glass of wine desperately, Magda, tsked tsked and told me not to worry, she had food at home. I asked if she had wine, I needed a glass of wine. She enthusiastically nodded her head, “Oh, yes indeed, I have the best wine.” I went home with her, Tony thankfully just dropped us off.   I sat on her tapestry covered settee and although it was hard as concrete and scratchy I was happy to be indoors. Magda came out with a glass and a mason jar of what looked like pink pickled something or other. “My friend makes their own wine, I don’t drink but it is supposed to be fantastic.” I looked at the jar, the pulpy fragments swirling around making this ‘wine’ cloudy’, I looked at my surrounds and knew this concrete slab was to be my bed and poured myself a glass. I think in some circles this drink would have been called moonshine. I just needed a few sips to be exported out of the room and into another realm all together. Magda explained her son was getting married and she needed to get to California, we both at that time didn’t know how long the black out would last. I was hoping for her sake (as I no longer felt anything) that it wouldn’t last past the evening so she could make her flight and be there for her son.  I asked if she had a t-shirt I could borrow to sleep in and she answered in the affirmative. She came back holding up a floor length black lacy, silky item. I think they were called negligee’s back in the day, I looked like a Sophia Loren character. I don’t think I have ever worn anything as fancy or as sexy in my life.  The next morning Tony drove us to the airport, I caught a flight home and Magda made it to the wedding, this is the first time I am recounting this story. My life has been anything but boring.

* At the time it was considered the largest blackout in U.S. history and went all the way up to Toronto!

CHICKEN WIRE GHOSTS

I thought it might be apropos to mention a very clever All Hallow’s Eve project as we quickly approach the 31st of this month. I wish I would have found this project earlier as I might have been inclined to try this myself. I love how ethereal these ghost sculptures look and I am sure that after a coat of glow-in-the dark paint they are nice and subtly spooky come evening.  A quick scary segue is that radium was the “original” glow-in-the-dark product,  it was marketed as a curative (probably because of its luminescent properties) it was put into almost everything–toothpaste, hair creams even water as a cure-all. We now know that radium is radioactive, extremely dangerous and being exposed to it causes large open sores, hair and tooth loss and diseases such as bone cancer. People were drinking this stuff! If you want to read more on radium (and who doesn’t?) this is a great article by Deborah Blum. If your interest is just getting whetted and you are dying to see more chicken wire in action visit artist Bendetta Mori Ubaldini. To get the how-to’s on making your own ghosts click the photos above. My friend Maria said her neighbors did this project, have any of you tried this or have you seen it in person? I am thinking if you had the skills you could create something that would be beautiful all year round. If I has the skills I would create a life size horse, I think it would look so serene out in our backyard especially when the fog rolled in.
 

PHOTOGRAPHER SUE BRYCE

I feel like I have written about photographer Sue Bryce prior but I couldn’t find the post so it seems it is worth another mention.  I am a HUGE fan of the ‘Before’ & ‘After’ and as you may know already I am a bit of a photography buff, when you put these two together it’s like inspiration manna from heaven for me. Sue Bryce does both exceptionally well, if seeing is believing then you must visit her ‘before & after’ gallery and be prepared to be amazed. I have been a fan of Sue Bryce for awhile, but after recently watching an interview of her telling her story it just resonated with me. I was so inspired and I felt that what she was saying about how she created her success was not just relegated to a photography business but any life goal. I think it’s important especially when you work alone to have a burst of cheerleading that you can do it, but I think that just may be true in general and that everyone can use a good pep talk every now and then. For the record I totally believe in you!  I hope that you visit Sue’s site and are as amazed by the beautiful transformations as I have been, she’s such a positive individual I am hoping you walk away from her site feeling a little more beautiful yourself.

CALLIGRAPHY SECRETS + RESOURCES REVEALED!

This is part II* of the interview with artist, calligrapher and font designer Debi Sementelli where she reveals some of her ‘secrets’ and resources. I linked the resources Debi mentions so you can find them easily. Enjoy! 

  
*You can read part I of her inspiration for her new font family Dom Loves Mary here. 

Q&A WITH DEBI SEMENTELLI 

How long have you been lettering?  

I’ve been lettering, on and off, for over 30 years. I started when I was 2:)
How did you get started?
I took a calligraphy class in art school (at the Cleveland Institute of Art) and found that I had a talent for it. I also found that I could earn some money doing calligraphy jobs to help pay for school so that made it even more attractive! 
Besides practicing, are there any tips you would give to a novice lettering student?
Well practice truly is the key.  But I would suggest joining a local calligraphy guild.  They sponsor a lot of workshops by extremely talented lettering artists and often have some members who do workshops as well. I’ll be doing one for our Dallas guild in January. It also gives you a chance to connect and share with other people who are also into lettering.  And you may find a more experienced calligrapher who is willing to mentor you, which is always helpful.
Have you ever taught classes or would consider doing that one day?
I do teach a 3 hour “Intro to Calligraphy” workshop at the Paper Source in Dallas a few times a year depending on my schedule.  It’s a very basic beginner class.  I have to only use their products so we work with chiseled markers and brush markers.  But I prefer that because I think it’s better to get the strokes and letter forms down before you start working with ink and nibs.  I don’t plan on doing any other teaching since my regular project workload and font designing and keeping my own skills up by going to workshops take up all of my time.
Do you have some favorite nibs, inks, papers? I know this is so subjective but us novice letterers love discovering new tools!

Well, I prefer to work with gouache over ink, with the exception of Sumi Ink.  I’m always trying out new papers and nibs and I love to work with brushes as well.  It really depends on the project as to which I’ll use.  I just attended a workshop with Carl Rohrs who is a well known and  incredibly talented lettering artist.  He had us working with Pentel Color Brushes.  He said it’s what he uses for the  work that is going to digitized. So I’ve been playing with that recently.  My go to nib is a Brause 66 EF. I also like the Nikko G, Hiro 40 (also known as Blue Pumpkin). It’s the one I pull out when I’m working on Crane Lettra envelopes, which are most calligrapher’s nightmare. I have a calligrapher in my guild who has turned me on to some vintage nibs, Esterbrook 956 is one of them. He finds them on E-bay.  When I see him at the meetings I beg him to sell me more. He’s my nib pimp:) In a recent order from John Neal Bookseller, I bought a pad of Clairefontaine paper it’s like butter!  If I am doing an original piece for someone’s home, I make sure to use an archival paper. Arches hot press is one that I use a lot.
 
Is there anything I left out that you think a lettering student should know?
I always ask the students that come to my workshop, “What do you want to do with your lettering?” Do you want to just have it as a fun hobby, making gift tags, cards and place cards for friends? Then have fun and don’t worry if it looks perfect.  Most people don’t even write in cursive anymore.  So if you create something with hand lettering, your friends and family will be thrilled.  If you want to be a professional calligrapher, you have to understand the time and dedication it takes to better your skills.  You also have to charge accordingly for the skill level you are at.  But whatever you want to do with it, just start.  Have fun and enjoy.  It’s really a very zen like practice.  When I am lettering for many hours I get into a great place where I feel so happy and relaxed. Whatever your state of mind, it shows up in your lettering.  So enjoy the process.
If you are like me and have a love of lettering + fonts than be on the look-out for the Dom Loves Mary font. To read more of the real and Dom & Mary love story visit Debi’s blog for more of the story and photos, truly delightful! If you have any questions for Debi just leave them in the comments!