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Artistic + Inspiring: Altered Books

I was flattered and honored when Holly asked me to be a guest blogger on decor8 for a few days while she settles into her new apartment and part-time life in Germany. I just want to say what a great resource and friendly voice you are here in the design blogosphere Holly. I don’t know how you do it really, every day there are a whole bunch of great new finds with informative, casual blog posts. You’re an inspiration – you make me a better blogger – and I’m sure many of us have nicer homes and studios because of the encouragement we find on decor8. I don’t know how you do it really, but thank you for doing your decor8 thing! [Holly - don't remove this! : ) ]

Holly asked me to introduce myself: I’m Jason Thompson, father of two, blogger, bookbinder and the founder of Rag & Bone Bindery, a small bookbinding studio based in Providence, Rhode Island. Rag & Bone has been designing & manufacturing handcrafted Albums, Guestbooks, Journals and other books for 18 years now [where does the time go?] and you can find our Albums through retailers across the U.S. and Canada.

decor8 readers can save 20% on all Albums & Books at the Rag & Bone Bindery boutique, simply enter this discount code during checkout [good through Friday, 08/22/08, enter code: decor8].

As a bookbinder, I love books, paper, bookbinding, book arts, paper craft, origami, altered books and art made with books as objects. I’m fortunate to be surrounded by books all day, but sometimes I forget how beautiful they are, which is one reason I’m drawn to book art and artists’ books. I’m inspired by the different interpretations artists find with their art, whether it still retains its “bookish-ness” or is inspired simply by the book form. Here are a few of my favorite artists and journalers who use books as muse and/or medium.

Sabrina Ward Harrison
Artist and journaler Sabrina Ward Harrison published her first book at the age of 23, “Spilling Open; The Art of Becoming Yourself”. This was one of the first published journals I discovered [together with Dan Eldon's, The Journey Is The Destination] that inspired me to journal myself. What is it about journals and journaling that encourages such self reflection? Sabina’s confessional journal pages are visual treats and a reminder of how fragile, inspired, confused, creative and individual we all are. Sabrina’s art has since moved off her journal pages to encompass photography, collage, installations and performances. She recently spent two years living in a former one-room schoolhouse.

If you’re in the Southern California area on September 20th & 21st, you can join a two day creative workshop with Sabrina at Carol Park’s studio. You can view more photos of her workshop here.

Teesha Moore
I first met Issaquah, Washington artist Teesha Moore while writing my first book and was blown away [I still am...] by her textured, layered and colorful journals. I was fortunate to have three of them to myself for a few weeks for photography and have to admit, I was inspired and a little intimidated. They’re so complex and dense. Teesha runs Artfest and Artfiberfest every year, two retreats with one-of-a-kind, unique art classes and events focusing on handmade art, book art and journals. Teesha also publishes “Art & Life” and “Play” ‘zines. She’s an inspiration to book artists and journalers and her love for art shows in everything she does. I’ve only met Teesha once, we’re on opposite sides of the country, and she’s just as lovely and generous in person. Check out her colorful art studio…



Artfest 2008 took place in April, however the 2009 schedule is in progress and dates are yet to be announced. Visit her website to stay up to date and join the artfest mailing list.

Lisa Kokin
San Francisco Bay area artist Lisa Kokin has her feet firmly planted in the world of fine art but her book work is approachable and playful. Her altered books maintain the book form, creation through destruction, and have a unified look and feel. She maintains a visual continuity throughout her work but finds new life in old books by reshaping them, shredding pages and even sewing books inside-out. In addition to altered books, Lisa also uses buttons as medium for her unique collages.

Georgia Russell [Georgia doesn't seem to have her own website, but is represented by England Gallery]
Scottish Artist Georgia Russell uses a scalpel [and obsessive patience] to create altered books which have been cut, very meticulously, into strips and shreds and carefully arranged into beautiful compositions. This kind of work gets me excited to create myself. There’s just something about particular types of art that sparks the, “I can do that!” feeling which inspires me to create something too. Though frankly, there’s no way I could make something as beautiful as this no matter how sharp the scalpel and how many band-aids I have on hand. Georgia is continually refining her art, creating new and unusual book forms.

Su Blackwell
UK artist Su Blackwell creates enchanting book art by externalizing the pages of books into three dimensional representations of their content. Sue says, “These works can be seen as metaphors for language. I use non traditional art materials such as books and clothes to create work which evokes a sense of dreamy melancholy or magical enchantment”. Dreamy and enchanting indeed! If books have dreams they would look like this!


Tracey Bush
[Tracey doesn't have a website, but is represented by Art*Star]

These collaged, paper-cut dioramas by UK artist Tracey Bush combine entomology and lepidoptera with traditional letter writing and mail art. Each butterfly is sewn together from layers of paper using a bookbinders pamphlet stitch and secured into Museum boxes with entomological pins. Each is an actual species presented life size and created with an allusion to its name or habitat, IE: the Scotch Argus butterfly shows a Scottish Loch on its wing, etc. Beautiful!

Stay tuned for Part Two of this post. I’ll return to share some of my favorite paper artists with you on Wednesday.

(images linked to sources above, text by jason thompson)

Posted in Arts + Crafts, Books + Magazines, guest bloggers on August 18, 2008

Home Design-Inspired Party Planning

Hi Everyone! I’m Jenn Sbranti from Hostess with the Mostess, Inc. which is a resource for hip and modern entertaining ideas. I’m very excited to be guest posting at decor8 today! I’ve been blogging from my home in San Diego for a little over two years now, and I was lucky enough to “meet” Holly (albeit virtually) in only my second month as a blogging “newbie”. She actually interviewed me here at decor8 way back in the day, and has remained one of the most inspirational and warm voices on the web for me ever since – just as I know she is for many of you, so thanks, Holly!

Holly asked me to give you a little background on who I am and how I got started, so here’s my story in a nutshell… I started my own blog Fabulous Finds & Ideas for Contemporary Entertaining (sorry ? it?s a mouthful!) while my husband and I were working on developing HostessWithTheMostess.com which features contemporary, out-of-the-ordinary party themes and tips for how to easily recreate them at home. There’s also a recipe section, general entertaining tips, an entertaining-focused shopping guide… and a bunch of exciting new interactive features are currently in the works!

The idea for HWTM.com came about when I was searching for creative bridal and baby shower ideas online and kept coming up with nothing – or landing on things that were overly cheesy, frilly, or expensive. So, being a graphic/web designer by trade I finally decided that since I couldn’t find what I was looking for, I’d work on creating it myself. Aren’t most small businesses born this way, to fill a need? My main goal was to create a highly inspirational site that was heavy on the visuals and full of stylish, but approachable ideas.

Fast-forward a couple years, and we’re up and running and continuing to grow! I still post at HWTM daily, and also twice a week on Real Simple and once a week at GlamDish. And speaking of posting…let’s get to it, shall we? :)

Nicky Hilton’s Hollywood Home, Photographed by Paul Costello for InStyle – March 2008.

When it comes to designing parties, one of the questions I get asked most often is, “Where do the ideas for your party themes come from?”. The answer is honestly pretty broad – it can be anywhere inspiration naturally strikes – from a really cool, modern toy that would be a great foundation for a kids party, to a beautiful, unique flower bloom, to a fabulous pattern on a roll of contemporary gift wrap. However, one of my favorite places to turn to intentionally seek out inspiration is home decor/interior design magazines and websites (i.e. decor8!), the reason being 2-fold:

A) There’s so much creativity to get lost in and inspired by in the world of interior design – from great color palettes to funky patterns to retro looks and kids rooms…you can find it all, and there?s usually something for everyone!

B) It’s not usually feasible to actually change the decor of one?s home around all that often, (that whole ?budget? issue, you know!) so designing a party inspired by a cool room design that you’ve fallen in love with allows you to indulge your inner decorator on a less stressful/committed level – and ? even more importantly – without breaking the bank!

So for my guest post at decor8 today, I thought it would be fun to show an example of how easily a well-designed space can translate into a stylish party theme… The inspiration here being a gorgeous black & white dining room from Nicky Hilton’s Hollywood home, as featured in the March 2008 issue of InStyle.

Below are some partyware and decorative accessories I found that capture the same striking black & white damask motif as Hilton?s pad?


Pictured Above: Design Design?s Damask Black and White Partyware and Amscan?s Formal Affair Octagonal Partyware.

Pictured Above: Black and White Damask Gift Wrap ($4.50/roll) is perfect for creating inexpensive table runners and covering cylinder vases, and this Fancy Fake Utensils set ($20/service for 4) from Urban Outfitters has a pretty baroque quality that ties in nicely with the candlesticks and wall mirror in Hilton’s dining room. Beats the generic white plastic utensils from the supermarket!

Pictured above: This ultra-modern, easy-assembly 3-D Chandelier from Urban Outfitters has all the style for a fraction of the price ? just $36! And Rosanna?s Dauphine Candlesticks mimic the chic silhouette of Hilton?s pair and are a tried-and-true personal favorite when it comes to gifting (at least judging by the recipient reactions!). $60/set of 2 for black or white.

Pictured above: These decorative crystal ornaments and garlands from Jamali Garden are the perfect way to up the glam factor at your soir?e?and ? don?t worry ? they only LOOK like a million bucks! Drape them across tables, chandeliers, or your fireplace mantle; hang them from vases, flowers, and branches, or use them to dress up party favors and gifts. Crystal Ornament Drops: $3.50 – $5.99 each and Crystal Garlands: $5 – $20 each.

Have you ever been inspired to design a party around a cool room or interior space that you loved? Were you able to capture the look you were going for within your party theme?

(images, layout and text by jennifer sbranti, hostess with the mostess)

Posted in Decorating Tips, guest bloggers, inspiration on August 18, 2008

IKEA TV

Now this is just SO COOL. I heart Sweden.

Posted in uncategorized on August 15, 2008

What Inspires a San Francisco Girl?

Hi! This is Victoria from sfgirlbybay dropping in on decor8 today while Holly is away. One of the more popular, regular posts on sfgirlbybay is called ‘Unexpected Guests’, and since Holly is a fan, she’s asked me to turn the tables on myself and to answer the questions I so often ask of others on ‘Unexpected Guests’. So without further adieu, here goes. I never realized before how tough this is!

Where do you live?
I live in the Pacific Heights neighborhood of my favorite city in the world, San Francisco.

What is your idea of a perfect day in your city?
This is tough because San Francisco has a lot of diverse things that I love to do. But a favorite day would be waking up early, grabbing a coffee from my corner coffee shop, Tulley’s and heading over the Bay Bridge to the Alameda Flea Market with my girlfriends. We’d shop ’til we dropped, and then probably indulge in one of the yummy grilled sausages with sauerkraut that you can buy there. Then we’d head back to the city and I’d do a little home decorating with my new flea market purchases. After a nice nap, I’d take a long bubble bath with a book and just enjoy the luxury of that. Then I’d dress and head out to meet friends at Zuni, one of my favorite restaurants for a Bloody Mary, oysters on the half shell, Caesar salad and we’d all share Zuni Cafe’s famous roast chicken with bread stuffing. San Francisco is for food lovers, and as you can see, I am one of them!

What don’t you leave home without?
My camera. A comb, lipstick, and my wallet.

What’s your favorite local shop?
I love Nest on Fillmore Street, with Swallowtail on Polk Street a close second. I probably love them equally and would love to have a shop of my own that would emulate their aesthetic. I love the eclectic, vintage and cosmopolitan items they carry.

What’s on your wish list?
I’m searching for the perfect daybed for my bay window. I’d really love an Eames Case Study Daybed.

What’s your favorite bargain find?
My buffet, which I found at a yard sale for $5. It was covered with awful creme-colored paint and I stripped it myself, sanded and refinished it.

What is your biggest interior design nightmare?
I hate that too-perfect look of cookie-cutter furniture from a chain store. Brown plaid sofas and neon beer signs are pretty awful, too.

Who is your favorite artist? And why?
I think my favorite artist is photographer Diane Arbus. I love the way she photographed outsiders, and captured their dark souls with her camera. I also love the work of William Eggleston.

Where do you find inspiration?
Everywhere, really. A lot of my friends are really talented artists, photographers and crafters and their work constantly inspires me. Magazines, other blogs, films, galleries and museums.

Who do you admire and why?

I admire my friends. They are a constant support system for me. I don’t want to name them all here, but you know who are. The people who came to my side through broken ankles, surgeries, the passing away of my beloved dog Cooper – good times and bad. They are the friends that don’t ask what you need, they just show up. I love you all.

What’s the last great book you read?
I used to read a ton, but with the blog it seems I rarely have time to read these days. But I recently read The Night Watch by Sarah Waters which took place during the blitz in WWII and is the story of three women’s lives converging. It was beautifully written, very descriptive, and I loved it.

What’s your favorite film?
Hands down, Breakfast at Tiffany’s with Audrey Hepburn, one of my personal heroes. I also love anything from Wes Anderson, and Sophia Coppola.

If you could photograph anyone in the world, who might that be?
Wow, who came up with these questions, this is tough! ;) I love photographing a special friend of mine and capturing his happiness.

Who would you like to sit down to drinks with?
Jon Stewart. I love him and it would be great to chat with such a smart, funny man. If we could bring along Dorothy Parker, that would be cool, but she’s deceased!

Do you have a guilty pleasure?
I’ve got some pretty cheesy songs on my iPod that I sometimes listen to while working out, or walking… Faith Hill, Britney, nsync. It’s sad, really.

What would you eat for your last supper?
I believe I would like my mother’s breaded veal cutlets with mashed potatoes. For some reason, I can eat stacks of these – it’s quite disgusting.

What is your most treasured belonging?
My cameras.

What souvenir did you bring back from your last trip?
My last big trip was to Italy, and I bought a small oil painting of the countryside from a local artist in Venice. I love it’s soothing colors.

Greatest indulgence?
It used to be books – I could never be just one. I always bought them in triplets. But lately it’s camera equipment.

What is your idea of living hell?
A nine to five job in a bank, having to wear skirts and nylons everyday. And, a tract house in suburbia. It’s just not me.

What are some of your favorites websites/blogs to visit?
I love Poppytalk, design*sponge and decor8 (not just saying that – I find tons of inspiration from these women). I also love dooce, Letters From The Consumer End and The Sartorialist.

Thanks Holly!! xx,
victoria

Thank you so much Victoria for joining us today on decor8! It was fun to get into your head a little so thanks for telling us about yourself and what inspires you. Readers: All photos above are of Victoria’s apartment in San Francisco… Don’t you just love her aesthetic? So pretty! - Holly

(images and text from victoria smith, sfgirlbybay)

Posted in guest bloggers, Home Tours on August 15, 2008

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