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‘swell things’ Category

  1. Swell Things No. 50 // Tokyo

    January 31, 2019 by Erin Fletcher

    1. The paper wall at Itoya in Ginza was stunning. It had every imaginable color under the sun. You simply chose which color and textured paper you needed, grabbed a square and brought it with you when checking out. There were so many luscious papers I wanted, but only walked away with a small handful of papers.
    2. Manhole covers around Tokyo are elaborately designed and vary depending on the location.
    3. Just one of many impressive structures at the Sensō-ji Temple is the 5-story pagoda. This temple is the oldest in Tokyo and upon our visit, my husband and I each donated 100 yen to read our o-mikuji, which are random fortunes. Unfortunately, I drew a bad fortune, but as is tradition I tied it onto a metal wire stand in the temple in hopes that would prevent it from coming true.
    4. At the MORI Building Digital Art Museum is the teamLab Borderless exhibit, which is a fully immersive and interactive art piece spanning several rooms and floors. The walls were flooded with animated florals, waterfalls, whales and marching warriors. While exploring we stumbled upon a room with grid-like walls where powerful strobe lights were evenly spaced on all four walls and the ceiling. The floor was mirrored to reflect the lights. The lights would rotate, flash and dim in sync to the music.
    5. Our last dinner in Tokyo was well worth the anticipation. We ate at the renowned Sushi Bar Yasuda where we were served omakase (or when the dishes served are selected by the chef). In total we consumed 17 varieties of sushi and I tried uni, sardine and oyster for the first time. But I can’t forget the succulent flavors of the bonito, sweet shrimp and consuming the sweetest, most caramel-y tasting tamago of my life.

    6. Tokyo is filled with animal cafes. Our trip to Harry Hedgehog Cafe resulted in petting giant rabbits, a petite black and white bunny and many sleeping hedgehogs. Of course we gently woke them with a sweet treat of dried maggots.
    7. We also made a visit to the Akiba Fukurou Owl Cafe, where we got the chance to sit in hushed whispers with a couple dozen owls. Each guests got to hold up to two owls over the hour-long session. My first owl, named Bonito, was quite rascally and preferred to perch on my head rather than my arm. My second bird was much smaller and much calmer. Sweet Potato (pictured above) loved posing for the camera and even coughed up a pellet for me.
    8. During a stroll through Harajuku we visited ReIssue Cafe where we ordere lattes with foam art. I asked for Totoro holding an umbrella. It was particallarly fun to watch the image distort into a terrifying demon-like creature as I consumed the coffee.
    9. At the Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum, we saw a large exhibit of calligraphy. The work ranged from traditional strokes to those that were highly expressive. The scale of the work was also quite impressive.
    10. So many elements of Tokyo are well designed. Anywhere you look, you can find a beautiful design or pattern. Looking down while waiting for the train, I saw this lovely pattern.

  2. Swell Things No. 49 // Hong Kong

    December 31, 2018 by Erin Fletcher

    1. In the center of the city is the historic Hong Kong Cemetery, which we got a glimpse of while sitting in a double-decker bus.
    2. A view of my two favorite buildings in the Hong Kong skyline from Hong Kong Park.
    3. Just one of many stone wall trees throughout the city, where trees are effectively growing out of the stone walls and defying gravity.
    4. A visit to the Man Mo Temple in the Central neighborhood where dozens of incense cones are hung from the ceiling.
    5. The view of Hong Kong Island from the Star Ferry on Victoria Harbour.

    6. We passed by this mural everyday on our way to Wong Chuk Hang train station, so on our final day I made sure to get a photo with it.

    7. A visit to Pak Tai Temple had me gasping at the array of paper flowers hanging across the entire ceiling. 

    8. Posing with Yayoi Kusama dressed as Princess Leia at the Madame Tussaud’s Wax Museum. You know, just a typical Saturday night in Hong Kong.
9. Eating our only hot pot dinner while in Hong Kong. Amongst friends and their family, we dined on steamed seafood, congee and steamed honey cakes!

    10. The view of Hong Kong from Victoria Peak. Such a gorgeous and dense city filled with the most skyscrapers in the world.

  3. Swell Things No. 48 // Maine, Michigan and Texas

    June 30, 2018 by Erin Fletcher

    For the past three months, I’ve been traveling to teach and have visited some incredible spaces and met really talented people. So in this Swell Things post, I’ll introduce you to a few.

    1. In May, I taught at the Paper and Book Intensive which was hosted by the Ox-Bow School of Art in Saugatuk, Michigan. This is a really unique space built near a lagoon that flows into Lake Michigan. The camp ground is filled with a variety of buildings set up for paper making, printmaking, painting, ceramics and glassblowing. All of the participants are housed on the grounds and we meet at the Ox Bow Inn for meals and social events. I highly recommend making the trip to Saugatuk for either PBI or to attend a workshop at Ox-Bow. It’s a fantastic way to unplug, relax and be creative.
    2. In April, I taught a workshop at the University of Southern Maine in Portland. And although my schedule hindered me from visiting PrintCraft, I didn’t want to miss this opportunity to tell you about it. PrintCraft is the combined studios of W.I.P. Editions and Strong Arm Bindery in Portland’s West End. Sharing equipment, experience and expertise in the fields of printmaking, bookbinding and letterpress printing, co-owners Lisa Pixley and Martha Kearsley produce an array of prints, printed matter and ever-evolving experiments in stationery. PrintCraft studio storefront is open Tuesday – Sunday from 12:00-6:00pm.
    3. At PBI, I met a delightful and talented ceramicist by the name of Gabrielle Soltis. She set up shop one evening and I walked away with this gorgeous speckled paste bowl and a handmade mug for my morning coffee.
    4. Before teaching in College Station, Texas, I made a stop in Austin to visit family. But I also made a visit to Flatbed Press and Gallery, which was founded in 1989 by Katherine Brimberry and Mark L. Smith. The space functions as a publishing workshop open for artists to produce large-scale limited editions prints. They are set up to create etchings, lithographs, woodcuts and monoprints. While walking through the studio, two large woodcuts had just been inked up and were ready to print. The inking took a little over an hour!
    5. During my time at PBI, I got to meet the extraordinarily smart, talented and hilarious Béatrice Coron. She works primarily in Tyvek creating “cut stories” by slicing away the material to reveal intricate scenes. Her work exists as flat pieces of art and wearable garments. In fact she wore a beautiful silver and black Tyvek jacket during her evening presentation. She has also designed fencing, sculptures and art for public spaces.

    6. I met Carey Watters at PBI and we spent an evening chatting about our art, our family and our love of travel. Her paper reliquaries are quite magnificent and her approach to paper cut sculptures is fresh and exciting.
    7. Vintage Marüshka fabric prints from the 1970s and 80s were scattered throughout the Ox-Bow Inn. The one pictured above was my favorite and is located in the bathroom inside the dining hall. I was able to find an authentic Marüshka cat print from 1983 that is hanging above my bookcase.
    8. I am a ceramic fanatic and when Jon Hook came out to PBI to sell some of his pieces, I jumped at the opportunity. I was in awe of so many of his vessels and mugs, but I ended up walking away with this tiny ceramic pig.
    9. Before visiting Flatbed, I made a stop at the Austin Book Arts Center (which happens to be in the same building). Mary Baughman gave me a tour of the bindery and their newly added print shop. The space is cozy and well loved. Every inch of their space is well designed to really maximize the potential of the room. They will be celebrating their third birthday in September, if you’re in the area, stop by for their auction!
    10. During one of the last few days at PBI, the resident artists opened their studios for touring. This is when I got to meet fellow School of the Art Institute alum, Noël Morical. Using macrame, Noël creates these massive hanging sculptures with bright parachute cord. She also had on display some smaller wall hangings, that to me, resembled alien-like sea creatures. I hope to own a piece one day!



  4. Swell Things No. 47

    April 30, 2018 by Erin Fletcher

    1. What can you do with ceramic shards? Artist Zemer Peled creates these magnificent sculptural pieces from fragments that mimic flowers, sea anemones and other flora.
    2. I love the embroidery work of Stephanie K. Clark. I’ve recently become enchanted with how she mixes pastels with rough and uneven strands of floss.
    3. Need some help learning how to type more efficiently? Get some help from film auteur David Lynch in this easy to follow game David Lynch Teaches Typing.
    4. Gloomy Sunday is a film by Memo Akten which presents how a computer can re-interpret a live performance of mundane objects into natural landscapes, a fiery hellscape and blooming florals.
    5. Many animals see color differently from us humans; on either end of the spectrum. Birds, in particular, can see levels of ultraviolet light beyond what humans are capable of. This ability allows birds to see each other’s glowing beaks and feathers, which in turn communicates a variety of information. I’m so compelled by this secret language and what must be a beautiful and luminous existence.

    6. Michelangelo, the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle, meets Michelangelo, the 15th century artist at a trip to the Metropolitan Museum.
    7. Artist Mary Frances Dondelinger has reimagined Roman history that puts women on equal footing to men. This series is documented through the excavation of Roman pottery that has been handcrafted to replace men with women in traditional scenes of strength and stamina.
    8. I am so delighted by the bubbly and quirky work of ceramist Beth Lo!
    9. Gucci’s Fall 2018 Ready-to-Wear Collection took some cues from Renaissance art. Visual effects company, Makinarium, was hired to create these lifelike props, which include a baby dragon and two human heads identical to the models carrying them.
    10. Alternative Moons is a photo book collection by photographer Robert Pufleb and web designer Nadine Schlieper. Traveling through images of the moon, the reader comes to a surprise as they reach the end of the book. This trip through space is actually perfectly staged images of pancakes!

  5. Swell Things No. 46

    October 31, 2017 by Erin Fletcher

    1. There are a lot of silly laws on the books and photographer Olivia Locher set out to break them. The full series is published in her book I Fought The Law. Shown above: “In Ohio it is illegal to disrobe in front of a portrait of a man.”
    2. I love the whimsy and softness of Jody Alexander‘s portraits.
    3. The textile and illustration work from Hannah Waldron is so gorgeous. She packs in so much imagery into her work with abstract shapes and luscious colors.
    4. At the World’s Fair in Paris in 1900, W.E.B. Du Bois showcased a series of infographics in “The Exhibit of American Negroes”. These graphs depict what life was like for African Americans across the US and within Georgia. W.E.B. Du Bois illustrated these charts himself collecting data with the help from students at Atlanta University. These charts were recently digitized by the Library of Congress.
    5. Accidental Wes Anderson is a subreddit showcasing perfectly symmetrical and brightly colored scenes that could be pulled from a Wes Anderson film.

    6. Jake Fried animates these mind-blowing illustrations made with ink and white-out. Check out Night Vision.
    7. Super Terrain, a publisher in France, has created a clever prototype of Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451 that requires extreme heat to be read. The technology was developed by Charles Nypels Lab, when activated by heat the black material disappears, but eventually reappears hiding the text.
    8. These bags from Grav-Grav are a gorgeous combination of wood and embroidery. Could be a great idea for a binding!
    9. The illustration style of Lisa Congdon is colorful and whimsical and a bit mystical, the best combination.
    10. The first known bookplate dates back to 1480 and was found in the personal collection of scholarly priest Hilprand Brandenburg of Biberach.

  6. Swell Things No. 45 // Jeanne Goodman

    September 30, 2017 by Erin Fletcher

    Jeanne is a close friend and colleague. We overlapped at the North Bennet Street School before Jeanne made her way back to Texas to help renovate the conservation lab at Texas A&M. She has appeared on the blog before writing posts for Conservation Conversations. But this time around she’s sharing some of her favorite internet finds.

    1. This first caught my eye because it is hilarious and a fun irreverent use of this turn-of-the-centry style of painting, but Omar Rayyan’s work is wonderful because it reminds me of the book illustration and old school animation I grew up as a kid.
    2. Motherland Chronicles is an ongoing series of photographs by Jingna Zhang, a fashion, beauty, and fine arts photographer. I love this series because when you first look at them, you think you are looking at a renaissance painting. She is also completely badass; she joined a Japanese rock cover band in her early teens and represented Team Singapore in air rifle shooting.
    3. Klaim Niko Inko tattoos – follow on instgram
    4. Under the Baobab, Southbank Centre in London
    5. Chelsea Flower Show 

    6. This artist (William T. Carson) works with coal on wood. I saw his work for the first time few months ago in Dallas at Camiba Art Gallery and I immediately wanted one. Its just one of those artworks for me.
    7. 3D printing, laser and electroplating…dresses? I LOVE this. its just so weird. (Iris Van Herpen)
    8. Sitting on my window in the lab is a paper sculpture by Charles Young of Paperholm in Edinburgh. Although he has many great creations, I was drawn to this one because it looks like Baba Yaga’s house, the witch who could decide to have no visters by asking her house to stand up so they couldn’t reach the door. I always thought that was so smart.
    9. Jan Vermann is a German artist who travels around fixing crumbling walls and monuments with legos. (Note from Erin: There is a small patch of legos near by studio in South Boston!)
    10.  I find myself looking at images and artwork and thinking about how they would translate into leather and tooling and inlays for bindings. Michelle Blade’s work here makes me think of mother-of-pearl inlays, veneer inlays, deep black grainy goat skin leather, and palladium tooling.



  7. Swell Things No. 44 // Henry Hébert

    June 30, 2017 by Erin Fletcher

    Back for another guest post is my good friend and fellow classmate, Henry Hébert. His picks this year include some fellow bookbinders (and one of their cats), a secluded bookbinding haven and some old comforts.

    1. Zdzisław Beksiński, Untitled, oil on fibreboard: Beksiński’s dystopian surrealism is gorgeous and haunting. My favorite paintings are like this one, combining religious iconography with almost alien textures. You can see a virtual gallery of his work here.
    2. Lahey Hemostatic Foreceps: Adam Larsson, Conservator at Uppsala University Library, clued me in to using long surgical tools for quickly lacing sewing supports through paper case bindings.
    3. Darwin: I picked this print up at Horse + Hero in Asheville, NC. This line from some of Charles Darwin’s 1861 correspondence pretty much sums up how I feel most mornings.
    4. Dark Souls: I think this video game from 2011 is still one of the best games ever made. Fun to play, excellent design, and weird, weird story telling.
    5. Bradel the Cat: Noted bookbinder and artist Karen Hanmer is the caretaker of this wonderful Abyssinian cat.

    6. Trump stress ball: News getting you down? Take your frustration out by squeezing a tiny version of our president’s dumb head.
    7. Rocks: I recently saw some of these decorated, parchment-wrapped rocks made by Shanna Leino. They were just such curious, fun little objects – I had to put them on this list.
    8.  Oxbow: I just attended my first Paper & Book Intensive, held at the Ox-bow School of Art in Saugutuck, MI. It was a pretty magical opportunity to disconnect from the outside world and focus on bookbinding.
    9. Jodorowsky’s DuneThis documentary about Alejandro Jodorowsky’s failed attempt to make a film based on Frank Herbert’s Dune is wonderful. Some of my favorite artists were all set to collaborate on the project, and many award-winning projects were produced from the wreckage.
    10. Mini-dividers: Brien Beidler makes some really nice brass tools. I just happened to have a pair of tiny plastic hands on me when he showed me these mini brass dividers. I still laugh every time I look at this mini-hand-modeling photo.

  8. Swell Things No. 43

    May 31, 2017 by Erin Fletcher

    1. With the effects of climate change looming around us and little to no action being taken by politicians, it feels imminent that our majestic National Parks will lose their brilliance. As apart of the New Deal, artists from the Works Progress Administration’s Federal Art Project were hired to create posters that would inspire tourism to our National Parks. Using these impactful and iconic posters, artist Hannah Rothstein reimagined landscapes ravaged by climate change as a new call to action.
    2. This photography series from Joanne Leah is captivating, jarring and definitely not safe for work. In her work, she is contorting and constraining the body to play with themes of exhibitionism and voyeurism, of public and private. How we inhabit our bodies, while simultaneously trying to escape them. Whatever your relationship is with your body, you will find something within these images to connect with.
    3. I would love to stumble upon one of Lewis Miller Design‘s floral arrangements that are popping up around New York City in random empty trash bins.
    4. If you’re looking to hire an illustrator or want some inspiration from a fellow female artist, check out Women Who Draw. This website is a great resource that not only promotes female illustrators, but puts a spotlight on women of all faiths, ethnicities and sexual orientations from all over the world. Above is the work of Liuna Virardi.
    5. Swedish artist Ulla-Stina Wikander, covers common and obsolete objects, with brightly cross-stitched landscapes. Many of her picturesque scenes are reminiscent of discarded paintings one might find in an second-hand shop. But the lush colors and thick threads breath new life into both these unwanted objects and images.

    6. Add a bit of flair and embroidery to your walls with Claire Coles magnificent appliqué wallpaper murals. The embroidery work is a bit chaotic and wobbly, which I love paired with the lush imagery and color palettes.
    7. The British Library recently digitized one of the world’s largest books. With the aid of several people and massive supports, the 41 maps of the 1660 Klencke Atlas are now accessible for everyone. Check out the time lapse video documenting the digitization process.
    8. The British Museum recently embarked on conserving one of the largest prints ever produced. Made from 195 woodblocks on 36 sheets of paper that measure to four by three meters, Albrecht Dürer’s 1515-17 Triumphal Arch was acquired by the museum in 1834 and assembled 1890 for display. Ingenuity and unconventional tools were used to tackle this massive project, such as a nasal aspirator to help disperse pulp infilling. Check out the blog, where the staff at the museum documented all aspects of the process like digitization and removing the degraded linen backing.
    9. In his series, Face of A Nation, artist Guney Soykan splices together the most recognizable portraits of a countries leaders to create a composite representation of each country. The wider the splice the longer that leader was in power. These portraits create an unique visual timeline of a nation’s history with politics.
    10. In The Book of Circles, Manuel Lima explores humankind’s attraction to the circle as a form of data visualization. With so many topics expressed through circular charts from celestial maps and air pollution to population growth and zoology, Lima goes in depth to our universally accepted method of communicating data across cultures and centuries.

  9. Swell Things No. 42 // Callen Evans Williams

    April 30, 2017 by Erin Fletcher

    Callen Evans Williams is a super cool gal living in San Francisco. We met through a mutual friend at the School of the Art Institute in Chicago, but after graduation we fell out of touch. However, some years later we both ended up in Boston at the same time working at the same Paper Source. How serendipitous! I knew Callen would be a perfect fit for Swell Things. She approaches art and design with so much appreciation and consideration to both the artist and their process. I second her nod to Travel Man, as Callen was the one who introduced me to the show, it’s quite hilarious and you’ll especially enjoy it if you love The IT Crowd.

    1. Steve Reich is Calling: This witty project by Seth Kranzler (found via Kottke) made me laugh and wonder what else in my daily life could be a Steve Reich composition.
    2. Multidisciplinary sculpture artist Cindy Zell manages to arrange rope into so many unique and appealing forms (and watching her process could be a meditative practice!)
    3. Porter Teleo’s wallpaper and fabrics are completely hand-painted. As you might imagine, this is the kind of luxury that shows up in celebrity homes and interiors by design-giant Kelly Wearstler…but what I really love is how they hire art graduates in the midwest and employ them to make one-of-a-kind work.
    4. In Travel Man, Richard Ayoade invites other funny people on 48-hour vacations to foreign lands. Short, sweet, hilarious, awkward–it might be the best 25 minutes of your day.
    5. In his new book Finding Shelter, photographer Jesse Friedin shares touching portraits of shelter animals and the volunteers who care for them.

    6. In this frustrating, fearful and uncertain time, I am buoyed by the outpouring of activism and artful response to our national politics. It often seems that these issues are out of our hands when in fact many individual actions and voices do make a difference. Love Letter America shares postcard art (like this one by Oliver Jeffers) that you can freely download to send your legislators some snail mail. (If you want something even easier that doesn’t require printing or postage, check out resistbot –you write a text message and they make it a fax to your senators!)
    7. San Francisco artist Jen Garrido reminds you that even if you’re a grown-ass professional woman, you’ll never be over florals, especially when they’re this lush, delicate and evocative. (If you are also a fan, you may like to know she has a current collaboration with Anthropologie.)
    8. Erin invited me to tag along to Codex this year, and it was an eye opening experience! I was amazed at the amount of skill, creativity and craftsmanship under one roof–and by how very well-read you bookbinders are! One piece that caught my attention was Precipitous by Nicole Pietrantoni. These accordion books display striking photographs of rising sea levels with overlaid poems by Devin Wootten. They are at once beautiful and foreboding.
    9. It’s been almost 2 years since we moved from the east coast to Northern California, and it’s grown on me fast. I am starting to see how the style and culture of California, and the bay area in particular, influence aesthetics nationwide. Mason St. Peter is an architect whose work seems to embody that laid-back California spirit.
    10. One of my favorite aspects of my work as a design assistant is product research and discovering amazing artists, designers and makers of all kinds. Willie Weston is a company in Australia that collaborates with Indigenous artists to create textiles and wallpapers. I’m especially fond of the colors in all the variations of Singing Bush Medicine by Colleen Ngwarraye Morton.

  10. Swell Things No. 41

    March 31, 2017 by Erin Fletcher

    1. Back in December at the Northampton Book Fair, I got a chance to visit with Laurie Alpert and discuss her sculptural work with Joomchi paper. There is so much texture and color packed into each piece, absolutely gorgeous.
    2. This guy is so wonderful, he creates a sweater of a scene and then takes a picture of himself wearing that sweater at that location.
    3. I love the design work of artist Michelle Leigh.
    4. Ever wonder how the peace symbol was designed?
    5. In his book, Gowanus Waters, photographer Steven Hirsch captures the vibrant and galactic qualities of the toxic waters of the Gowanus Canal in New York.

    6. Photographer David Burdeny traveled to western Australia, Utah’s Great Salt Lake and the Mojave Desert to capture salt pans and dry lake beds. The otherworldly colors resulting from both human and organic forces.
    7. Check out this New Yorker article on a box at the Institut de France labeled Objet Un. The contents of this box are the charred remains of papyrus from Herculaneum. Along with Pompeii, Herculaneum was destroyed during the eruption of Mr. Vesuvius in A.D. 79. After a bit a history lesson the article goes into how technology may finally reveal what the scroll inside this box actually says.
    8. The embroidery work of Danielle Clough is mind-blowing. Danielle creates her pieces with a heavy stroke of bold and layered stitches. Many of her pieces are beautiful portraits, but she has even created some embroidered pieces on tennis rackets.
    9. A restoration project recently began on the Purrington-Russell Grand Panorama of a Whaling Voyage Round the World, an 1848 panorama owned by the New Bedford Whaling Museum in Massachusetts. This particular panorama stretches 1,275 feet in length and stands eight and a half feet tall, that’s about the same length as 14 blue whales. You can read more about it here.
    10. Jim Gaylord is an artist based in Brooklyn making large scale painted paper collages. I’m amazed by his ability to create depth and movement with layered paper.

  • Visit My Bindery
    My name is Erin Fletcher and I live in Boston working as a Bookbinder.  This blog is an extension of Herringbone Bindery where I can share my inspirations with you.
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