Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Today is one of my favorite days of the year! As an Irish Dancer I spent March 17th performing at local schools and pubs with some of my best friends. It was a day of hard work and lots of fun…and seriously, who doesn’t love a chance to skip school in order to go dance and party all day?

In the spirit of the day, I wanted first to praise the beauty of March 17, 2012 Google Doodle created by artist Jennifer Hom. It’s reminiscent of all of the things I love about Celtic art and knots, but not overly burned with the cliched shamrocks and glaring greens that dominate the usual celebrations. It reminds me of all the time so many of my friends and I spent choosing designs and colors for solo dresses, or even dreaming about the day when we’d get to design a solo dress.

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Paper Cutting

Since graduating, I’ve had a lot more time on my hands and this blog is partially a result of that free time. The other way I’ve filled my free time is to undertake the new hobby of making things with a letterpress. To compliment this skill I’ve also decided to try my hand at paper cutting. I’ve seen some really amazing paper cutting work over the years and really appreciate the time and skill necessary to make things like this; unfortunately, I don’t do it justice…at least not yet anyway.

However, one of the many inspirations that I’ve sought to help me endure my many mistakes in this undertaking has been the book Paper Cutting which is aptly subtitled “Contemporary Artists, Timeless Craft.” There is some truly awe-inspiring artwork contained within these pages. Some of my favorites include Su Blackwell’s “altered book” paper cutting. It’s stunning what she can accomplish with the pages of a book…but I do have mixed feelings about abusing books in such a manner. I am also blown away by Hina Aoyama’s incredibly delicate lace-like designs that bring together nature and fantastical images. I doubt my skill will ever be anywhere near her’s, but I’ve decided to start collecting old lace to try to mimic the patterns there. How neat would it be to overlay paper cut into lace designs on top of the letterpress cards I’m making? I’m really excited about this, so now I just need to steady my hands and dig deep for patience.

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Downton Abbey

Going without cable has been a new experience for me, but it’s turned out to be quite rewarding. I’ve rediscovered my love of audio books, and found myself picking up more hobbies than ever before. But, that aside, I still want to turn on the tube every now and then and today I am incredibly glad that I did.

PBS Masterpiece “Downton Abbey” was on and it’s incredible! It’s a WWI period piece but it’s high budget and well acted! It’s like all of the greatness of the BBC’s Jane Austen films without the horrid acting. (Don’t get me wrong though, those are still great..even if long!) Within half an episode of Downton Abbey I’d declared that I wanted the boxed set for Valentine’s Day; forget the chocolates and flowers this year!

Check it out! It’s on PBS every Sunday evening at 8 pm. You won’t be sorry!

Between the Folds

Between the Folds is a PBS documentary exploring the history, math, art, beauty, and future of origami. I have a deep appreciation for “oriental” themed artwork, but I tend to lead heavily towards contemporary art that utilizes older art forms, theories, and styles rather than art that strictly follows history of the form. That said, however, I am very much in awe of the skill that is required to complete the most basic of figures in origami. I think it is soothing to fold, unfold, re-fold, and shape a 2-D piece of paper in to a stand-alone 3-D object.

I found myself watching this film while wrapping a double batch of bite-sized caramels for Halloween, and although I was just wrapping and twisting the ends of hand-cut pieces of parchment paper, I felt strangely connected to the topic of paper folding. This film documented extremely well-educated people who have given up everything in order to fully devote themselves to origami, or to put it simply, folding paper. For people with graduate degrees and successful careers, this may seem like <fill in negative adjective here> choice, but paper and the things that can be accomplished with it are amazing! I am definitely not going to quit my day job to follow their lead, but since I was a little kid I have loved making paper (though often decorated with pressed flowers rather than intended for intricate folding) because I just think it is the bee’s knees.These people are, with the exception of the one-fold guy (you’ll know who I’m talking about if you watch it), craftsmen of the highest order and I love the sincerity and skill demonstrated throughout the documentary.

My favorite part of the documentary was the interview with the man that makes his own paper in order to achieve the perfect color combinations, and then, born out of impatience, began folding with paper that was still damp in order to create a combination of softer folds (almost indentations rather than folds) and more traditional folding techniques. Other people interviewed created unbelievably complex designs and the “short-hand” blue prints for such designs are fascinating. The notebook shots are the most insightful, in my opinion, because it really drives the point home that these beautiful figures that come to life are truly composed of many many layers of straight lines/folds. And here folks, is where they really got me interested: they spent a long time discussing the math and science behind and explored through certain types of origami.

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