Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Unique and Modern Wedding Ideas

I have a long tradition of being on the fringe of the wedding industry. One of my first jobs as an apprentice costumer for TV and movies eventually led to designing wedding gowns for a pretty fabulous boutique. I was in my early twenties and while I had no plans to get hitched to my adoring and very committed partner, I absolutely dove into my love of the actual "stuff" that goes with weddings. It became a passion of mine to study them and catalog the best, most unique and beautiful ideas I happened across. Then my little sister got a job at a boutique across the water (think west coast) in the very uppity town that I grew up in, and she would give me a weekly update on who was marrying whom and which dress they had bought and how much it cost and whether or not they should have chosen another. I ended up being involved in the planning process of many high end affairs. What I realized was that although many people would spend a fortune on their event, they very seldom took the time to think about whether or not the details actually meant anything to them. The point was definitely to trump whatever it was that the last girl in the group had done with a higher price tag and a flashier brand name. I became very frustrated with the entire industry.

Eventually, many tiara wearing parties later, I moved on and eventually found my way to my current quiet home where it seems that people do not get married. If they do, it is a bbq at the beach. This take on the whole thing actually fits my values and ideals far better than the extravagant affairs that Martha likes to sift through. But the reality is that still, I covet the idea of having an excuse to pull together all the pretty ideas that I have never stopped filing away. This is why I get excited whenever I run across something I have never seen. I mean, people have been doing this for ages, LOTS of people. It is really hard to find something unique. And there are probably seven thousand bridal monthlies out there... at least! And as a handmade anything devotee who shuns anything conventional, I especially get happy shiny thoughts over special, one of a kind, sentimental and individual touches. These products and ideas are some of my favourites, old and new.

My favourite thing to give the couple as part of their gift is something that I have never seen copied and it has brought every bride to tears. I use it at baby showers too. The only thing is that you have to give it to them after the fact. I usually ask the brides mother to steal a blossom or two from the bouquet and then take a few choice samples from the rest of the flowers... a boutonniere, from the cake, table centerpieces, etc. Press them and then arrange them on parchment or some stunning paper that you have copied either the vows or a beautiful piece of poetry. Sign it with something sentimental and the dates and then have it professionally matted and framed.

Another thought is to have one special blossom pressed and placed into a glass frame pendant for a stunning necklace.

As far as decor is concerned there are FAR too many ideas to list them here. A sampling of things that have caught my eye...

nifty table numbers

Love moss on a table

a cloud of butterflies

love the hanging vases with the ribbons

A new super brilliant idea? is now possible to engrave a band with an ENTIRE poem! Or your vows if they are not crazy long.

I have a certain kind of attachment to neato place card settings. I don't know why, but when I come across a new idea, I get all excited, thinking that someday I will throw the perfect party to use it at. I love these...

These are cups of chocolate pudding with cookie crumbs for dirt :) YUM!

Guest books have become sort of the new tradition to mess around with. The ideas that some people have come up with are pretty fabulous.

A pretty plate collection integrating signed plates

I don't actually know what this is for but it looks
to me like it could be a great polaroid camera setup...
IF that were a polaroid camera.

BellaPuzzles custom jigsaws lets guests sign
a piece, engagement photo on reverse... way cool!

I adore tiny envelopes.

Years ago, a good friend got married, and when she sent out the invites to her friends and family, she included a square of silk and pretty instructions to turn it into something beautiful that represented their relationship and that of the bride and groom. Coming from a background of artists, this woman ended up with a hand painted, beaded, embroidered and batiked collection of squares that her mother stitched together into a STUNNING quilt. It was hung at the reception and each guest had a great time picking out their square and telling everyone about it. The couple took it home and those happy thoughts and memories still keep them warm today.

I turned this idea into my current business of embroidering Celebration Quilts. These quilts are meant to either take the place of a traditional guest book, or be used as an extension thereof. Each guest purchases a square and sends a wish for the couple that is embroidered onto luxurious natural fabrics and when everyone has responded, the quilt is sewn up and shipped in time for it to be hung at the wedding. So far this has been a very rewarding endeavor and more than once it has brought a tear to my eye when I hear the background to a particular sentiment, or see the emotion it brings out in those who receive it. It means that people who are unable to attend the wedding can still get in on wishing the couple well and knowing that it won't just sit on a coffee table gathering dust is a bonus!

If you would like more information on the quilts, please follow these links...

Thanks so much to Scoutie Girl for making me get my butt in gear and setting up the listings for Etsy so i could do a proper post! Check out her blog for more great ideas.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

From Purl to Couture

I came sort of in a haphazard and indirect way, from the fashion industry. At least I was surrounded by it for a good many years. I actually was not even a little bit interested in fashion's industry and jumped ship at the first good opportunity. It had never been my intent to be there but for some reason I just kept ending up there. Go figure. The thing that I really never got was the industry part... but the ART part... this I understand.

It is a rare occasion indeed when I find something involving textiles that makes me stop and pay attention. It is a case of been there done that that, and quite frankly, gets annoying. I don't like to think of myself as a snob, but I must be one. I simply don't get all caught up in the latest whatnots or media hype around whatevers... and I always find that the things I am impressed by are found off the beaten track.

Case in point.

I don't knit. Or crochet. Ok, once I attempted to knit something resembling a scarf for everyone for Christmas... I used big needles and thick chunky wool so that nobody could see that none of the rows had the same number of stitches in them. But I do understand that both arts consist of highly mathematical (this is where I get lost) and complex systems of almost but not quite knots. This is important. Why? Because the fascination here lies thus. You can take one very long and uninteresting string or line, and bunch it up in such a way that it becomes not only very useful, but insanely beautiful. This is art at it's most brilliant. To take simplicity and convey it in a way that makes it seem complicated, and yet it is dependent on that simplicity to be useful. Lines turned into structure.

Adrienne Rogers, who created these stunning pieces says “What drives my designs and choice of materials is the ultimate texture that can be created using such basic tools as needles and a single, continuous thread.” Her unbelievably sumptuous and tactile pieces epitomize this process and she is one of a few who see and understand the art in what she does. I am not sure why the terms knit and crochet conjure images that include rocking chairs and porches, but if we take a minute to consider that they also usually include women who are wise and generous, I suppose it all falls into place. More of these women need to see the worth in what they do and in return, we should follow suit.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Hip Hip Hoopla

I am loving this series of photos and the hilarious captions that go with. It has been keeping me company for awhile now and I think I should share on the off chance that there are others who have yet to fall upon it. I think the world needs more bits of funny, don't you? About time this "Modern Life" obsession the design world and all its followers covet and portray are tossed about a bit, no?

It started with basic doodles: turtles, butterflies, and the like. Then, he began diagramming string theory and spouting principles of quantum physics. His parents were horrified.

(Photo: David Duncan Livingston; Dwell)

He had no intention of ever riding it, or even fixing it. But he decided from this moment forward, all visitors would enter to find him in exactly this position.

[vehicular cruelty]

(Photo: Gregg Segal; Dwell, October 2009)

Also this.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Adventures in Alice in Wonderland...


Well, it certainly comes as no surprise that the new Alice in Wonderland movie should get such a reaction, with the likes of Tim Burton and his impressively unique cast collaborating to create a new take on one of the oldest and deeply entrenched fairy tales of all time. That re-creation in itself is a dynamic undertaking however, not the least of which is the re-imagining of a costume that has become perhaps the most iconic of any fairy tale character in history.

Typically, the blue pinafore worn by a young Alice changes with her when she transforms from caterpillar size to that of a house, keeping our heroine from needing any costume changes. In this version, award winning costume designer Colleen Atwood reinforces the feeling of Alice's (and sometimes others') discomfort presented by this inconvenient (albeit sometimes more convenient than other times) resizing, by having the clothing stay its own size. In many cases, Alice must reinvent the fabric remnants to keep herself covered and this is done with a surprising grace and style.

The quality of the fabrics and detail in the garment design is immediately apparent and also very fitting of both the period of the movie and Alice's status in society. What impressed me the most was how fine the line was between worlds. Atwood created detail in Alice's blue party dress that made for perhaps the most whimsical elements that would have been allowed in her position. She is as "Alice" as she can be in her sane world. "Contrarlywise", in the realm of Wonderland (or Underland) she sports a variety of Betsy Johnston-like frocks and, in the White Castle, an almost Chanel like attire that look very close to something you could pull off the runway. Very wearable in a fashion forward sense, and belying to the surreality she is surrounded by. In addition to this storytelling through costume, her strength of character is portrayed by the fact that she is without the confinements of her corset and stockings. This alludes to Alice's non-conformist and rebellious nature as well as immediately disregarding the first element that many costumers would have relied upon. All of these aspects are what has won such praise (including her recent Oscar nomination) for the immensely talented Atwood.

In all, my take on the movie was that it actually seemed to steer some reality into the storyline, which was refreshing. In a plotline that most use as a vessel for unleashing the imagination, the creators of this film did a supremely good job of bringing the fantasy closer to home and making it all the more believable. Definitely worth seeing, and while I wasn't able to watch it in 3D, I can only imagine how amazing the experience would be!

This movie, as most movies do that seem to take on popular culture as a whole, has spawned an entire onslaught of Alice "stuff" that span from the mass produced to the couture. Entire lifestyle streams seem to be geared toward the nearly 150 year old tale, each with their own take, from fashion houses to food. It isn't a new phenomenon, but it is perhaps one that is farther reaching than others, as it seems that Wonderland provides an excuse for that which these days everyone wants to attach themselves to- release from the staid and normal. I have enjoyed my ebay obsession all the more recently due to people pulling their nearly forgotten treasures out of the closet to see what they can get if they market them with the Alice tag.

Nifty cross stitch. Wouldn't this be a gorgeous pillow?

Vintage Mme. Alexandre doll sold for $130.

Alice inspired dress by Sue Wong

"Key to the Rabbithole" necklace

Vintage and antique books from $400

Ukranian version of the story with stunning illustrations.

What did you think... and would you spend $9,700 to own a signed 1896 copy of the book that started it all?

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzz In Style

Are we all very aware of Eileen Fisher's new collaborative effort for Garnet Hill? We should be. I know we don't have a bunch of money to throw around right now... yours truly is especially trying hard to focus on things other than the meagre coin in my bank account. However! IF you were going to splurge on something, I feel strongly that a decent, NAY, a blissful night's slumber is most worthy. And I have been coveting a really lovely set of linen sheets for quite some time. But then I stumbled upon bamboo and the entire mission got sort of derailed. I was watching the Anthro set for awhile, but these... well dear readers, THESE are just too beautiful. There is something about the double fringe, frayed edge that I just adore. Yummy.

They come in shades of this spring's pretty palette of melons and dew and I believe I saw some cucumber in there too. Sort of like a doable luncheon platter. Refreshing would be the term I believe.

Right, and while we are on the topic of redecorating schemes that I cannot afford currently (although there is certainly nothing wrong with mentally refurbishing the abode that resides in my head, is there?) I think it is only fair to add the recycled leather mats and the eco fill silk duvet. Just for kicks, no?

Oh, hey... did I mention... SALE? Yeah.