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Posts Tagged ‘swell things’

  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. 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.

  3. Swell Things No. 33 // Emily Patchin

    May 31, 2016 by Erin Fletcher

    Emily Patchin will be graduating from the North Bennet Street School within the next few days. And you may recognize her name from my post on the set book from the Student and Alumni Show. In the latest installment of Swell Things, Emily offers up an interesting collection of posts. Many of them will direct you to talented illustrators and other artists. My favorite is on Kameelah Janan Rasheed, whose artwork shown below, hangs in our bindery. Enjoy!


    1. Beth Cavener’s work has floored me since 2010. To see the raw edges of her work evolve into a style even more painterly than it began, while she maintains the searing emotion within each sculpture, is simply incredible.
    2. I love these highly stylized safety posters [from the Netherlands]. It’s interesting to be able to note the passage of time, from the 1940-1960s, through the art style alone.
    3. Whales! KNIVES! Does this really need an explanation for why they’re AWESOME!
    4. Glas is a fun, short Dutch film, documenting the nature of hand craftsmanship versus machine produced glass. I think it’s interesting to note the musical and color changes, from man to machine, that may influence the viewer’s feelings on the subject. I also can’t decide who I like more: the man blowing glass while smoking a cigarette, or the man blowing glass in a three-piece suit.
    5. Everything about Alvaro Tapia Hidalgo’s illustrations are unsettling: from his vivid color palettes, to his lidless, geometric portraits of cultural figures. I adore it.


    6. These landscape photos [from Reuben Wu] are so beautiful and otherworldly. I love the ones that are reminiscent of deep sea exploration in particular.
    7. Kelly Rose Dancer is one of the most talented and prolific artists I’ve ever had the pleasure to meet! She’s not only immeasurably talented, but her cheeky sense of humor carries through so much of her work. In her series, Crappy Cats, she draws the cat’s clothing with her dominant hand and the faces with her non-dominant hand. It’s a perfect example of how her superb draftsmanship and sense of humor mash-up to hilarious results.
    8. Kevin Wada first caught my eye with his collaborative “X-Fashions” series, which depicts characters from Marvel’s X-Men as haute couture fashionistas. I find his stylistic reinvention of popular comic characters refreshing. With the decade long onslaught of comic-book movie adaptations, I feel all of the female characters I grew up loving, like Storm, have been left in the dust. Wada puts them center-stage: kicking ass in Balenciaga.
    9. Tyler Thraser had me at, “I crystalize dead shit.
    10. Kameelah Janan Rasheed’s public print series How to Suffer Politely (And Other Etiquette) is top to bottom brilliant. She satirizes etiquette guides while pointing a hot light on the erasure of Black suffering, oppression, and death through White respectability politics.

  4. Swell Things No. 20

    February 28, 2015 by Erin Fletcher


    1. Israeli artist Ron Arad’s obsession with the Fiat 500 began when he father was almost struck while driving one. This recent installation series put on by the artist exhibits a collection of flattened Fiats, which was achieved by using the metal press at a shipyard to crush each car to 12cm thick. The results are just surprisingly stunning.
    2. The Last of the Teddy Girls is a collection of photographs from Ken Russell portraying the girl gang subculture and their male counterparts in a post-war London of the 1950s. The portraits are a magnificent representation feminine style and independence.
    3. I’m really loving these brilliant and colorful collages from artist Anna Ovni; could perhaps inspire a future leather design binding.
    4. Check out this beautifully illustrated 15th century manuscript of Claudius Ptolomaeus’ Cosmographia.
    5. I’m always intrigued when artists introduce unusual materials into their work. Alison Foshee illustrated a series of fauna using staples because in her words was the best way to highlight the contour of various plant life.


    6. Xylotheks: an object where the container is a fundamental component of its contents. In this case, the wooden book boxes store wooden objects. These objects were particularly popular in Germany in the late 18th to early 19th centuries. Xylotheks are a surprising discovery for me and are quite interesting objects.
    7. Every year new words are added to the dictionary, so it only makes sense that new hand gestures would make their way into American Sign Language. Read the fascinating article and see the signs that represent words or phrases like: selfie, photobomb, and food coma.
    8. Charles Young is the paper engineer behind Paperholm: a growing paper city. The best part is that many of these miniature building models are animated. I love the detail and quirkiness behind the project.
    9. I recently stumbled upon this phenomenon referred to as kawaii cuisine coming out of both Japan and Denmark. Each of these cooks are creating itty bitty foods using plastic doll cooking equipment and candles to cook the food. Reality can be a bit bizarre some times.
    10. In the early 1900s, Thomas Cobden-Sanderson threw 2,600lbs of his bespoke typeface Doves Type into the Thames. For the past three years designer Robert Green has been trying to recreate this lost typeface. After thorough research, Green discovered the spot where the coveted type was tossed into the murky waters. Green was able to uncover a total of 150 pieces, just a small portion, but enough to help him finish the digital version.

  5. Swell Things No. 16

    September 30, 2014 by Erin Fletcher


    1. After reading an article about the difficulty in conversing with strangers on the train, my husband referred me to The Stranger Project 2014. Over the course of one year, the gentleman running this project, will connect with one stranger per day. Sitting down to discuss their lives and get to know them. The profiles are completed by a portrait.
    2. Motion Silhouette is a beautifully bound and interactive children’s book that utilizes the shadow cast on opposite sides of a center pop-up to create the narration on either side of the page. On one page a silhouette pop-up of a tree casts a tree-like shadow for a flock of birds, while on the other side becomes a massive lightning bolt over a city. Click here to watch a video of the book in action.
    3. Any Arrested Development fan will remember the Living Classics Pageant scene when George and Buster recreate Michelangelo’s The Creation of Adam. Little did I know that this was referencing Pageant of the Masters, which occurs every year in Laguna Beach, California. You can read more about it in this New York Times article here.
    4. The Future Library is an expansive project just introduced this year by creator Katie Paterson, a young Scottish artist. A forest of 1,000 trees was planted outside of Oslo in Norway; these trees will become the paper to publish the works of 100 authors picked once a year over the course of 100 years. 2014 marks year one and Margaret Atwood is the first author to participate. The work she writes will not be published until 2114, the year The Future Library will be released. I’m intrigued by this project, yet disappointed to know I’ll never get the chance to read this work by Margaret Atwood. Read more about the project here.
    5. Samantha Bittman is the textile artist I would have wished to be, if I had become a textile artist. Her black and white woven pieces are a maze for the eye, stringing your vision from left to right then back again. Just stunning work!


    6. Miniature Calendar has been churning out stunning miniature scenes since 2011. Each image is listed daily and uses everyday objects mixed with miniature figurines to add a bit of color and whimsy to your life.
    7. The Houghton Library at Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts houses a collection of 20 miniature books written and bound by Charlotte Brontë and her brother Branwell. The two siblings, 13 and 12 respectively, created fantasy worlds called Angria and Glass Town. The books measure less than 1 inches by 2 inches and include minute script of wild tales and adventures.
    8. Anna Valdez is a magnificent painter who incorporates so much life and color into her work. Enjoy!
    9. Ever wanted to unleash the power of a Bookbook. IKEA’s recent ad campaign for their new 2015 catalog is brilliant. A geeky looking spokesman sitting in front of a whitish wall talks about the book as if it were a handheld device. Which it kind of is!
    10. Enjoy this elaborate paper animation: The Collagist, from artist Amy Lockhart.


  6. Swell Things No. 14

    May 31, 2014 by Erin Fletcher


    1. Heck Yes Craft is an excellent source of links for various craftsman from the American Craft Council.
    2. Sugar and spikes and everything somewhat nice is exactly how I would describe the wild illustrations by artist Wishcandy.
    3. Check out these delicious and beautiful vegetable illustrations by artist Ryo Takemasa.
    4. Believe it or not, these cameras are ceramic pieces! Not a painting or paper sculpture, but ceramic! These marvelous pieces are created by the talented Katherine Morling.
    5. I recently stumbled upon the work of artist Susan Joy Share. Her artist book Grace of Wit, of Tongue, and Face is an accordion binding made from cloth and what appears to be printed and paste paper panels. The book is an interpretation of a 16th century poem by Sir Walter Raleigh.


    6. Back in 1692, an artist known by the name of A. Boogert embarked on creating an educational guide on color by explaining how certain hues can be mixed by altering the tone. Nearly 800 handwritten and painted pages in Traité des couleurs servant à la peinture à l’eau can be viewed in its entirety online here.
    7. Same But Different is an International Emmy Award winning and BAFTA nominated collection of short documentaries that showcase eight children from across the United Kingdom who are living with a range of disabilities and medical conditions. The films are wonderfully guided through the eyes of the child and their experiences, challenges, friends and aspirations.
    8. A “drinkable book” is being developed to teach water safety and to act as a filter to treat filthy water into a drinkable resource. Each page is coated in bacteria-killing silver nanoparticles, which can be easily torn out and used as a filter for up to a month. Instructions and educational facts are printed on each page in food-grade ink, the initial run of 100 copies was printed in English and Swahili for distribution in Kenya. The organization behind the book, WaterisLife, plans to distribute it around the world.
    9. Ivor Robinson, was an exemplary master bookbinder in the 20th century whose work will continue on as inspiration for future bookbinders. You can read his obituary here.
    10. Check out the wild and disjointed portraiture work of Erik Olson.

  7. Swell Things No. 11

    December 31, 2013 by Erin Fletcher

    1. Purely a fashion find: Three Floor, offers up some unique and interesting garments with unusual structural elements. 
    2. The Bristol Central Library just celebrated its 400th anniversary and as a tribute to its history installed a massive living sculpture cleverly referred to as Book Hive. Robotics collective, Rusty Squid, designed this interactive installation to respond to the movements of the library’s visitors. Each book, 400 in total, open and close in a range of breathtaking patterns, creating a satisfying creak that one expects to hear when opening an old book. Check out the video here.
    3. Temari balls originated as Chinese folk art and were introduced to Japan in the 7th century. These balls were hand embroidered with the thread from old kimonos, then given as a gift from an elder to children on New Year’s day.  
    4. When I clicked on the Fruit & Vegetable series from Heidi Voet I was quite surprised and immature giggling quickly ensued. But in all seriousness, Heidi used images from Chinese magazines and completed the naked female bodies with various perishables to highlight both our consumption and their perservability.
    5. Exhibition a is one of two sites I discovered recently that offers original art and prints at reasonably affordable prices.  The image featured is a print titled Persian Princess Mourning Her Peacock from artist Tony Cox.


    6. Philippe Parreno recently premiered his work Atlas of Clouds, an animated neon book. This piece is visually stunning and I think Parreno artistically captures the movement of a book in a stationary object. View the other pages at 1301PE Gallery.
    7. Gorgeous paper sculptures from artist Richard Deacon. Each piece is crafted from sheets of hand marbled paper. The patterns and colors are quite unusual from a bookbinder’s point of view, but absolutely striking. 
    8. The Art of Clean Up: Made Neat and Tidy is a playful book from Swiss artist and comedian Ursus Wehrli. His crusade to organize the chaos of the world seems quite daunting even when the objects seem so simple from a bowl of alphabet soup to a pine branch.
    9. 72 Editions is the other affordable website I discovered recently to offer original art and prints; from the web to the wall (as their slogan goes). The image featured is Glacier d’Argentiere I from artist David Denny.
    10. Haute Papier SS 2014 is the latest collection from designer Bea Szenfeld. Showcased at Stockholm Fashion Week, the models walked the catwalk with beautifully crafted ‘garments’ created from 3-dimensional paper sculptures. 


  8. Swell Things No. 4

    April 30, 2013 by Erin Fletcher


    1. These brilliant and mystifying jellyfish are captured by artist Alexander Semenov, who studied Zoology from Moscow State University and specialized in invertebrate animals.
    2. Indigo: The Color that Changed the World by Catherine Legrand follows her search to reveal the few remaining communities that continue to harvest and produce indigo, tracking history through these contemporary artisans.
    3. I recently watched The Wolf Man from 1941 with my mother. It was quite campy and not the least bit scary, but revealed itself as the black and white film featured in The Sandlot!
    4. The Knife just released a new album after a seven year hiatus! Enough said.
    5. These 19th Century astronomy drawings from the New York Public Library Digital Gallery are just breathtaking and quite modern.


    6. Boys Club is a tumblr that shines light on aspects of our global culture where women have not tread. For example, all incarnations of Dr. Who have been men.
    7. Stunning photographs from Amira Fritz that simply make me happy and perhaps someday Jason will come home with an oversized bouquet!
    8. Persistence of Vision is a recent documentary from Kevin Schreck following the unfinished animated feature from Richard Williams, who you may recognize as the genius behind Who Framed Roger Rabbit?. Kevin’s film is beautiful and heartbreaking as you follow the ups and downs of Williams’ career.
    9. These adorable miniature rounded-back case bindings have been transformed into an itty bitty urban street. Let’s Live Here is bound by Jamie Lynn Schilling
    10. Midway is a film by Chris Jordan capturing the heart wrenching effects of human waste. The Laysan albatross is plagued by the Pacific Garbage Patch. Chicks are ingesting bits of plastic, causing them to starve and die. Chris Jordan dissects the deceased chick, circling their remains around the contents of their stomachs. 

  9. Swell Things No. 3

    March 31, 2013 by Erin Fletcher


    1. Incredible Wooden Marble Machines (and videos) from a Swiss designer and artist // Paul Grundbacher
    2. These highly structured and detail sculptures are constructed from paper. Unbelievable! Designed by Irving Harper
    3. Creatively sculpted ceramic vessels and plates // Shawn Spangler
    4. David Meowie
    5. Masterfully illustrated paper designs and portraits // Eiko Ojala


    6. Silkscreen printed Masks Cushion in Neon Coral // Hazel Stark
    7. Miniature Dream House slipcase for an accordion artist book // Jacquie Duruisseau
    8. I recently had an enthralling conversation about gender roles with the talented artist Katrina Majkut whose current work focuses on traditional wedding festivities.
    9. Stone Eye is a collection of poetry from Kentucky’s former poet laureate, Richard Taylor. Two editions were printed by Gray Zeitz of Larkspur Press with wood engravings by Canadian artist Wesley Bates. Thirty-one copies were bound by Guild members for a 2002 Midwest Chapter of the Guild of Bookworkers exhibit. The exhibition can still be seen online at Northwestern University.
    10. The psychedelic collage work of Serpentfire available at Society6.


    11. Need a laugh? Head over to the Irony Lab for some quirky and unusual sentiments // Tim McCool
    12. A recent Etsy obsession – Black Leather & Blue Triangles Pouch // Blackbird and The Owl 
    13. Swiss photographers Taylor Onorato and Nico Krebs cleverly extend the lines and angles of buildings with the careful placement of wooden beams.
    14. Jason and I have been obsessed with shipwrecks lately. These detailed ceramic pieces from Jon Gariepy caught my eye and drew me in.
    15. I love the odd nature of Laura Carlin’s ceramic work.

  10. Swell Things No. 2

    February 28, 2013 by Erin Fletcher


    1. A Newton’s cradle out of lightbulbs titled Asobi :: Yasutoki Kariya
    2. Seth Godin has created a public art-sharing project inviting artist to jot down what their art is on a bookmark and then slip it into his newest book The Icarus Deception
    3. The work of Angie H. Iver
    4. The Sea Chair Project: three artist set out to produce three-legged chairs out of sea waste
    5. The work of Jose Romussi


    6. Select letterpress prints :: Karel Martens
    7. Chandelier made from 3,000 gummy bears :: Kevin Champeny
    8. Big Copper Knot Necklace :: Otherwild
    9. Cement & Metal candlesticks :: David Taylor 
    10. Traditional kilt maker Paul Henry makes tartan notebooks with the cloth scraps 

  • My name is Erin Fletcher, owner and bookbinder of Herringbone Bindery in Boston. Flash of the Hand is a space where I share my process and inspirations.
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