March 31, 2007

A new project

I recently signed up for a 2 month pledge over at Wardrobe Refashion, so starting tomorrow, all new clothes will either be refashioned or handmade by me! Wish me luck- here is a copy of the "pledge" in case you'd like to read it:

The Pledge

  • I, Lauren Smith, pledge that I shall abstain from the purchase of "new" manufactured items of clothing, for the period of 2 months. I pledge that I shall refashion, renovate, recycle preloved items for myself with my own hands in fabric, yarn or other medium for the term of my contract. I pledge that I will share the love and post a photo of my refashioned, renovoated, recycled, crafted or created item of clothing on the Wardrobe Refashion blog, so that others may share the joy that thy thriftyness brings!

March 30, 2007

14 in 1

I've been doing a little sewing today, and have been having fun using my Dritz 14 in 1 measuring gauge to double check the width of my hems before I stitch them. This strange little gadget basically does everything a ruler does, but the measurements, ranging from 1/4" to 2", are cut out of metal and condensed into a little square that fits right in your pocket! (Though I suppose by the hole in the top that it's meant to be worn around your neck while you're sewing? I don't think I'm quite there yet.)

March 29, 2007


I think that people who design book covers and movie titles have some of the dreamiest jobs ever. They have the privilege of interpreting someone else's work and creating the perfect package for it and a lot of the time, it is the first impression that readers and viewers have of the work. I especially love when book designers do something creative with the endpapers, those (usually solid color) pages that are glued to the inside covers of hard bound books. These two are from two books that I happened to be flipping through this week, and I couldn't get over the similarity in their layout and printing style (black on grey and silver on black).

The top endpapers are from The Nutshell Studies of Unexpected Death, and the bottom endpapers are from Margaret Kilgallen: In the Sweet Bye & Bye.

March 28, 2007

Listen Up

I subscribe to a handful of podcasts, and the one I most look forward to downloading every week is NPR's All Songs Considered. Sometimes they play tracks from upcoming albums, sometimes they dedicate the whole hour to a live performance by one band, and sometimes they ask a group of music critics to comment on their favorite new releases.

But the best is when they invite musicians into the studio to be guest DJ's - to have a conversation with host Bob Boilen and talk about where their influences come from and what music has had an effect on their lives. I think hearing artists talk about what inspires them might be one of my new favorite things (which would explain why I have recently started going to a ton of artist talks at local museums and art schools.)

Some of my favorite guest DJ hours since I started listening to the show have been with Bright Eyes, Joanna Newsom, Weird Al and M. Ward. All are available in the online archive and are definitely worth a listen.

March 27, 2007

Love, love, love this idea

Art + Food + Community = The Slideluck Potshow.
Click here to read the New York Times article.

Cloudy with a chance of rain...

Our friend Kate showed us this great website that posts a time lapse movie every day of the weather patterns in the Bay Area as seen from the Lawrence Hall of Science. Watch as the fog rolls in and the rain starts falling, and as the lights of the cities come on at night. It's mesmerizing!

March 22, 2007

Shout, Sister, Shout!

There's a scene in one of our favorite films (Amelie), from one of our favorite directors (Jean-Pierre Jeunet), in which the title character receives a mysterious video tape from an anonymous admirer. The tape reveals a number of beautiful, remarkable, odd, and playful scenes culled from random sources and edited together into a poetic and heart-warming pastiche. It's one of the many moments in the film which brings a little tear to our eye.

One of the charming little snippets is fuzzy black and white footage of a woman tearing it up on a Stratocaster in front of a robed and rollicking gospel choir. That image has always stuck with me, but I never took the time to find out who that lady was. Well, this weekend I read a review of "Shout, Sister, Shout!: The Untold Story of Rock-and-Roll Trailblazer Sister Rosetta Tharpe", a new biography by Gayle F. Wald about that very same remarkable woman. The book sounds fascinating: The story of a guitar playing, r&b singing, gospel choir fronting, black woman touring through the Jim Crow South of the 1930s and 40s. Sister Tharpe broke all kinds of boundaries and rules, and influenced some of the biggest, baddest trailblazers in music including Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis, and Little Richard. YouTube has some great footage of her performances that are definitely worth checking out.

March 21, 2007

Trompe L'oeil

I was flipping through the March issue of Domino magazine when this amazing trompe l'oeil dress caught my eye. It reminded me of one of my very favorite Anna Sui dresses, a black and white version of the one pictured below in green. Turns out the one in this picture is a vintage dress by Roberta di Camerino, an Italian designer who famously printed faux pockets, buttons, belts and other details on clothing and handbags in the 1960s. If you look closely at the photograph, you'll notice that the entire dress is made out of one piece of fabric - the blue shirt and cuffs are even connected. It's brilliant!

In French, trompe l'oeil means "to fool the eye". Here are a few other of my favorite trompe l'oeil articles of clothing throughout the 20th Century:

Elsa Schiaparelli sweater from 1929

Vintage Roberta di Camerino dress

Anna Sui, Fall 2001

From the 2006 Roberta di Camerino collection, available in (you guessed it) Japan.

Guys & girls tuxedo T-shirts!

Yeah! What she said!

To piggy back on Lauren's post from yesterday for a second, there's a review in the Times about a show at the Philadelphia Institute of Contemporary Art all about art collectives. The exhibit features one of my favorites, Space1026, which we were lucky enough to visit the last time we were in Philly. It also includes Fritz Haeg, who is doing some really interested things about building community and collective-ness. We feature his Edible Estates project in the new issue of ReadyMade due to hit stands any moment now (speaking of which we're having a little issue release party at El Rio on Thursday starting at 7:30 for any interested locals....)

March 20, 2007


I love the idea of an art collective, and have been curious to learn more about a London-based collective I recently read about called Janfamily. Founded by Royal College of Art graduates Nina Jan Beier and Marie Jan Lund, the group creates art in all mediums, including music, photography, and film. Earlier this month, they staged an event at the Tate Modern called "Clap in time", where they entered the museum and all started clapping at a specific time, inviting everyone in the building to stop what they were doing and join them.

Their book, Plans for Other Days, which you can view selected pages from on the Janfamily website, is a how-to book or according to the artists, "a list of proposals on how to relate to our surroundings", with brief instructions and photographs on topics such as "how to find what you are looking for" and "how to be in two places at the same time." Here are a couple more:

"How to try to make sense."

"How to reach for the sky."

March 19, 2007

Yay Susan!

Just wanted to point everyone to a lovely article in SF Weekly about our friend Susan O'Malley. We met Susan a few years ago in Brooklyn and we were so excited to reconnect with her when we moved back to the Bay Area. She's a wonderfully talented artist with a big brain, big heart, and a fantastically smart sense of humor (and wonder) about the world around us. The article talks about a project she's been doing as a visiting artist at the Branson School in Ross. Susan also put together the amazing show "Get Together" we had a few months ago at the Hardware Store gallery, which was a total blast. Take a few minutes to read the article and then head over to her website. It'll blow your mind.

The Finger Puppets

Yes, the finger puppet kit is technically made for kids, but we had fun assembling all our felt parts to make these cutest finger puppets. The kit came with just enough glue- I think we used every last drop!

March 17, 2007

Mini shopping spree

Yesterday evening we headed down to Serramonte for a guilt-free shopping spree at the Japanese discount store Daiso, (where almost everything costs only a buck-fifty) and here is our loot! We got a pack of candy colored sponges, some plastic folders, a paper bottle that shoots out paper streamers, a toy for the kitties, some kraft colored sticky notes, a pack of gingham twist-ties, a little wooden mushroom cell phone charm, some felt coasters and a plastic storage container with a cute felt belly band. Oh, and two "burnt wood" planks to make shelves out of. The owl bookends will be painted either black or white. (Not too into the speckled yellow look.)

We also stopped by Target while we were down there, and I picked up this cute endangered species finger puppet kit in the toy section, complete with pre-cut felt pieces and glue. I couldn't resist...

March 15, 2007

Claire McCardell, Redefining Modernism

Writing about Bonnie Cashin yesterday got me thinking about another great show I saw at FIT (back in 2000, I think) on fashion designer Claire McCardell. She was a sportswear designer in the 1930s - 50s, and is most famous for her simple tie-on and wrap-around dresses. Look at those amazing plaids! My personal favorite, the "Popover Dress," with its large pocket and attached oven mitt, was sold as a "utility garment" in the 1940s for $6.95, or around $90 in today's dollars. (Picture above taken from the Met's Costume Institute Archive.)

I guess I was half expecting to come across some great websites dedicated to her work, but I couldn't find much more than a short Wikipedia article and a few other short bios. There is a book out called Claire McCardell, Redefining Modernism that I have since reserved from the library, and she herself wrote a book in 1955 called What Shall I Wear? which I can't seem to find much information about either. Anyway, enjoy these photos, and keep your fingers crossed that someone out there is working on a more complete website documenting her life and her designs!

March 14, 2007

"Chic is where you find it."

I have been thinking a lot about the designer Bonnie Cashin recently, and was so happy when I stumbled across two incredible websites dedicated to her fashion designs from the 30s through the 70s: the Bonnie Cashin Foundation and the UCLA Library Dept. of Special Collections. Both sites document her entire design history, including her remarkable line of handbags for Coach and her "Seven Easy Pieces" concept of dressing, which I love.

I saw an amazing exhibit of her work at FIT in New York a couple years ago and completely fell in love with her designs and her theories about designing. She created utilitarian clothing and accessories that were fashionable and chic at the same time by mixing industrial hardware with leather and suede and beautiful woven textiles in simple, geometric shapes. So many of today's designers are still embracing those concepts. (The thing that got me thinking about Bonnie Cashin again was a wallet I recently purchased from Hobo that reminds me so much of something she would have done.)

In addition to the quote I mentioned above, I love that this quote by Bonnie: "Wouldn't it be nice if I could get a tweed by spinning together a bird's nest and a spider's web?" I couldn't have said it better.

March 12, 2007


It was during the Oscars that I first saw the new commercial for Apple's iPhone. As with most of their promotional materials I thought it was a slick little ad. I also noticed that it was a complete rip-off (homage?) of one of my favorite artists, Christian Marclay.

It's hard to describe Christian's diverse body of work. He's a composer, a sculptor, a sound artist, a filmmaker, a photographer, a conceptual artist, a dj...the list kinda goes on and on. Anyway, here's a great little piece about him from one of our favorite old shows (canceled) on one of our favorite old channels (defunct). It is a nice introduction to Christian's biography and work, and it includes a little snippet of the video Apple ripped off, "Telephones" (1995).

(ps: while looking at some links I hit this, and am wondering if it sounds like Jerri Blank to anyone else...?)

(pps. Speaking of telephones, we recently got these little doozies in at the Shoppe, and I'm slightly obsessed with mine.)

March 08, 2007

Tom Bonauro Design

We had lunch with our dear friend Tom Bonauro today, and I just wanted to share some of his work- he is an amazing graphic designer who has done work for Levi's, George, Todd Oldham and others. Enjoy!

March 07, 2007

Speaking of fabric...

I am coveting these fabrics and trims over at Super Buzzy right now.

March 05, 2007

Beautiful Fabric Display at Purl Patchwork

Am feeling inspired today by this picture from the Purl Bee, where they came up with this clever way to display a wonderful collection of printed fabrics in their store by stretching them in embroidery hoops of all shapes and sizes, and hanging them by color. Just another reason to keep all your leftover fabric swatches- you never know when the smallest piece might be put to good use!