Friday, October 30, 2009

Curiosities: Roomba Art

Talk about the combination of 2 of my favorite things: cleanliness and art.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Found Objects: Color Me Happy

Longing for some quality coloring time? Reach for these wonderful handmade crayons. Their playful shape and friendly faces make for instant fun. The nontoxic materials that go into making them are a bonus.

 (pictures via

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Prêt-à-Porter: Long Live Summer

When fall arrives each year, I always feel a little resigned in spirit.  Resigned to dim-colored clothing, and to growing increasingly (with the onset of colder weather) bulkier in shape as I pile on the layers.  Putting the happy, light summer dresses away feels like putting away the happier, sunnier me 'til spring.  But it's not all depressing, I suppose.  Fall and winter also mean greater structure.  Dress shirts and sleek pants and boxy coats.  Minimalism and black and white can be a welcome break from the flirtiness of summer dressing.

(above: a look from the Alberta Ferreti Spring 2010 collection, paired with navy wide-leg pants from Barneys New York and a Lutz &Patmos cream-colored cardigan. Pictures via and

But this fall, I'm just not ready to let go of summer quite yet.  So here's a suggestion, even for those who have to dress for the office every day.  Why not prolong summer by wearing warm weather pieces all throughout the fall (and maybe the winter, too, if you love summer like I do)?  Float innumerable light layers on top of each other: a bare, wispy blouse over a bare, wispy dress over another wispy dress, capped by a thick sweater or a suit jacket in the office.  When it's particularly cold, I slip on a close-fitting turtleneck as a base layer or add pants under the dresses.  Another idea: Tuck the ends of a gossamer scarf into the waist of your dark pencil skirt to combine a little feminine with the conservative.  Instantly, you've got a multicolored look with personality that's ready for work.  I also have a lot of fun wrapping delicate scarves around my torso to create a silky, strapless top under a jacket or cardigan.  And finally, summer tunics and caftans can have an interesting life in autumn either paired with a coat of similar length and dark tights (for an elongating look), or belted and brought up short as a loose blouse with great volume.  Wear them with a pair of trousers or a long skirt, and you'll have the perfect mix of summer and fall.

(above: a look from the A.F. Vandervorst Spring 2010 Collection, paired with a fitted brown jersey skirt from Rick Owens Lilies and a camel-colored wrap coat from The Row. Images via and

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Curiosities: Claudia Hapeman Masks

With Halloween around the bend, these beautiful Venetian-inspired masks would be a breath of fresh air amidst all the tired witches, goblins, and sexy nurses/cats/barmaids. Each mask is created with quality materials (think Swarovski crystals and gold leaf) by renowned artist Claudia Hapeman. I love her extravagant use of lush feathers and sequins, which makes each piece an impressive piece of art. After Halloween, prop up your mask on a bookshelf or a bedroom vanity to add a dramatic flair to your room.

(photos via

Monday, October 26, 2009

Eatables: The Best Custard a savory one.  No kidding.  Last week, a dear friend and I went to "Per Se," Thomas Keller's New York establishment, for a possibly once-in-our-lifetime dinner, and that was the new truth I learned.  Sadly, some of the courses in the chef's tasting menu that were meant for knock-out effect were befuddling (I didn't really understand the appeal of a slab of duck breast with no distinctive flavors developed, followed by an equally nondistinctive slab of lamb of almost the same texture), but a few courses were bright stars.  My favorite of the evening was the "Oysters and Pearls," a "sabayon" (in this case, a savory custard sauce) covering pearl tapioca, island creek oysters, and sterling white sturgeon caviar.  Tasting how the wonder and richness of the custard enhanced the slippery, dimpled textures of the tapioca, oysters, and caviar, I suddenly thought that a savory sabayon might transform even the most familiar food into small miracles.  A few sites offer some delicious guidance on the making of:

Friday, October 23, 2009

Found Objects: Hub man

What a fun and streamlined way to add more USB ports to your computer. Hub Man comes with 4 USB 2.0 hi-speed ports and a cute little smile. Retails for $28.95 and is available here

(photo via

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Curiosities: Making of a Dog

Last Saturday, I spent an afternoon at Gallery Hanahou in Soho, NYC, making a hand-sewn mechanical dog.  A small group made up of designers and inexperienced people like me gathered around a long table in the gallery space and, surrounded by the exhibited artwork of Ossu Shugeibu, a Japanese crafting club, we set about "skinning" the poor furry toy dogs whose moving skeletons would serve as the foundation for our own creations.   This sounds awful but is actually a terrific way to bypass the daunting gadgetry challenges of creating a mechanical toy and just move into the creative aesthetics of the process.  By the end of the workshop, the group of us (some of whom had truly limited sewing skills) had turned out an eclectic array of dogs and dog hybrids with parti-colored appendages (a few proudly bore limbs constructed of men's plaid boxer shorts).   We marched them down to the front of the gallery building and took them for a short walk on the street.  You can click here for more pictures (photos via Gallery Hanahou).

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Bookmarked: Masterpiece Comics

I've never envisioned Bronte quite like this! A tongue-in-cheek re-visioning of some of our greatest classics in this comic book compilation available at Drawn and Quarterly (a fantastic name, don't you think?). You can get a preview of "The Crypt of Bronte" on their site.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Found Objects: Heath Ceramics

Beautiful ceramics, glassware, and tiles by Heath Ceramics, one of the few remaining mid-century American potteries in existence today. Their team of 40 craftsmen produce these amazing pieces on their premises in Sausalito, California. I love the contrast between the warmth of the materials and the clean lines and forms. Their price points don't make them completely unattainable, especially if you think of them as functional art pieces.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Prêt-à-Porter: Avian Beauty

An odd and interesting sighting at Bloomingdales the other day: a woman in a print ad whose eyes looked ready to take flight. They were delicately delineated in bright, colorful featherlike lashes, which were so whimsically birdlike that they drew me in. I spent the next twenty minutes at the Shu Uemura makeup station, looking at the advertised "Tokyo Lash Bar." Sitting in little plastic cases were carefully crafted normal-looking false lashes next to lashes that could never in anyone's imagination be considered anything less than psychedelic costuming for the eyes! Neon colors in feathery sweeps and round layered swoops lay at rest in their boxes, waiting to come to life, i suppose, as soon as a bold wearer comes ready to experiment (and plunk down the money--prices range from under $20 to near $80). I wouldn't normally have the nerve to go near them, but since Halloween is nearly here, perhaps the brown feather lashes.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Curiosities: Name My Tune

So, you're sitting in traffic and a fragment of a melody pops into your head. You don't remember what the song is, but you know, it goes like this: Dah. Dum. Dum. Dah! You call your friends singing that little phrase. You get nothing, except maybe aggravation and a suggestion to focus on your driving. That's where Name My Tune comes in handy!  You can jump on this website, record your little diddy and send it out to the masses for tune recognition (using something as simple as your built in mic). You'll get emailed suggestions of tunes and artists. An invaluable resource to cure that it's-at-the-tip-of-my-tongue syndrome.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Bookmarked: Thumbwar by John Hersey

I have a soft spot for thumb wars. My significant other and I played it endlessly in the beginning of our relationship (I wanted to win. He—I found out later—just wanted to hold my hand :) This great handmade book by John Hersey is a fun tribute to this ancient form of "warfare." Go to his Etsty store and get a brief education on how thumb wrestling came to be (e.g. brought to the West by Marco Polo and used to determine who was going to sleep with the most popular concubine?!) Letter-pressed and bound with either laser cut plywood or chipboard. 100 editions total.


Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Found Objects: More Than Skin Deep

If you've never heard of Liz Earle "Naturally Active Skincare" products, here's a quick introduction: It's a British skin care line focused on using high-quality, natural ingredients and dedicated to preserving the environment. Nowadays, with so many companies ostensibly devoting themselves to "greener" practices, this sort of promise is becoming a little trite. But with an in-house ethnobotanist and a carefully thought-out plan to reduce environmental impact, the people behind Liz Earle really try hard to make good on their promise while delivering the best product for your money. And I have to say, it's a really excellent product. Two winters ago, the "Superskin Concentrate," loaded with a lavish combination of plant oils, saved my skin from a dry and crackly fate. Just smelling the wonderful lavender essential oil in it (sourced from atop Mount Ventoux, France--yes, the Mount Ventoux that's a pain for Tour de France riders to summit) is soothing. Try the "Cleanse & Polish Hot Cloth Cleanser," a "Natural Health Beauty Awards" winner for three years running. Questions about specific skin benefits of the ingredients used? Check out the helpful "A-Z" glossary of natural ingredients on the company website.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Featured Retailer: Papelaria Interview

When I first started Girl Of All Work, I'd dreamed of having our products go international. Now you can find our products in Chile! We were so excited when we met Antonia Risopatron, proprietress of Papelaria, a franchise of two beautiful, upscale stationery stores in Chile—one in Santiago, and the other in Parque Arauco. I was struck by the black modern storefront and just the lovely array of colors and textures carefully composed in both stores. We were honored to be in the midst of such great company! Antonia was kind enough to answer a few questions we had for her from starting her own business to what was on her bookshelf.

Girl Of All Work: What inspired you to open your store? How did you come up with the name?
Antonia : It was a long dream for me. I've always loved papers. Paper products are a delight for me. That's why I finally decided to open a store. My friends also encouraged me to do this. In Chile, there is no other stationery store, out of Papelaria. The name is similar to the word "papelaría," which means papery in Spanish, but it sounds different and is easier to remember.

G: When did you open your doors?
A: We opened our first store exactly 2 years ago, in August 2007

G: What are you reading right now?
A: I am reading a book about the life of Michel Angelo Buonarroti and The Agony and the Ecstasy by Irving Stone.

G:Where have you travelled recently?
A: To New York last May. I really enjoy the city, it's full of life.

G: If you weren't doing this, what do you think you'd be doing?
A: Really, I am so happy with Papelaria, that I haven't thought of anything else to do!

Monday, October 12, 2009

Found Objects: Penguin Books Tea Towels

How fun are these?! Now you can turn your kitchen into a library of sorts. Too bad they don't have excerpts from the books on the other side; it would make drying dishes a bit more entertaining. Available here.

(photos via

Friday, October 9, 2009

Gallery: Tessa Farmer

As I stared and stared at artist Tessa's Farmer's exhibit at the Spencer Brownstone Gallery in NYC last winter, I knew my world had been changed. It wasn't just the gruesomeness of her materials that made an impression, it was the completeness of her vision--so carefully realized and beautifully detailed. Farmer is a gifted creator of dark fantasy worlds. Her installations feature aggressive fairies wielding spears against insects and planting themselves on hapless dogs and birds (among other familiar animals). That's not all. The fairies, it turns out, are each so miniature that, peering at them with the unaided human eye, you can hardly see all there is to see. Not only that, but, well, they're composed of dead insects. And the dogs and birds they perch on are real, dead dogs and birds. But the most interesting thing about her installations is that these details become less important, the more that you look at her work. It's not every day that someone creates whole worlds. Go for the shock factor; stay to marvel at her talent. Farmer's work will be showing, along with that of other artists, at the State Hermitage Museum, in the Winter Palace in St. Petersburg, Russia, from October 25 through January 17, 2010. an expanded version of the same exhibition will open at the Saatchi Gallery in London in June 2010.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Found Objects: Keybags

Whoa. Talk about taking your work with you. Not quite sure how heavy these bags are, but they're bound to be a walking conversation piece. Priced around 130-145 Euros (approximately, $192-$212) and made from 393 randomly assigned computer keyboard keys. 

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Eatables: Leaf Pie Nirvana

It IS possible to taste heaven. If your tastes run to the simple but well-made, then the "West Leaf Pie" is for you. Is it a pie? No. It's just the best part of a pie (for me, at least): layered, leaf-shaped pastry that's a dream of what the airiest pie crust would taste like if it came lightly showered with sugar granules. Ahhh!!! I once ate 6 pieces in one sitting. And even though my stomach mildly rebelled against so much buttery pastry, I could barely restrain my hands from reaching for piece #7. Sold at Takashimaya, a little jewel of a Japanese department store located in Midtown New York City, the "Leaf Pie" is the best part of the afternoon tea service provided in the Takashimaya "Teabox Restaurant." And like so many beloved things at Takashimaya, it's still a little-known secret of sorts.

(photo via Takashimaya)

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Beautiful Bargains: Cool Water

I've always had a weakness for stuff that was a bit army-hip. The colors and construction of these civilian water canteens definitely reference their more serious counterparts... but with a sophisticated twist. Now on sale from $90 down to $60 for most pouches. Flasks will run you 30+ and up (also on sale).

Prêt-à-Porter: The Bigger, the Tougher, the Better

For years, costume jewelry has tended towards the extravagant. Remember a couple of years back, when brooches were all the rage? Huge suckers, plastered with kick-ass imitation gems and faux gold touches. I don't think big, statement jewelry has ever gone away. But now it seems to be bigger than ever, and with a tougher, street-influenced vibe (as though daring us to denounce its wearer for showiness). It's a little hard to imagine who--besides the 20-something rocker-chic set--might be able to work this look into their typical ensemble. But the prospect of seeing young office professionals and stay-at-home moms give it a try makes me a little giddy with excitement. (Street) fashion for all!

(top grouping/left to right: earrings by Fallon and a choker by Bottega Veneta
bottom grouping / left to right: necklace by Bottega Veneta and a necklace by Burberry)

Friday, October 2, 2009

Curiosities: Smarin

I have never coveted pillows to the degree that I covet these amazing creations by Smarin. They're aptly named "living stones" because they simply invite interaction. I was also smitten with their raindrop garden furniture that looks like it lights up at night. Check on their website for U.S. retailers. So many fantastic and creative designs. I'm floored.

(photo via Smarin)

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Spotlight: Calling All Dawns Album

It's nice to flex my non-stationery design muscles every now, and in this case, it came in the form of a CD design for composer Christopher Tin's Calling All Dawns, a beautiful album that defies a genre classification but would likely be categorized as "world music." It consists of 12 songs/ 12 languages / 3 parts (day, night, dawn). With such Grammy nominees and winners like Frederica con Stade and the Soweto Gospel Choir gracing this album, it's a deeply moving listening experience. Below is the cover art and some miniaturized versions of the layouts I designed for the album. And yes, I did use Stefan Hattenbach's typeface Delicato for the text. Album becomes available today!