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11 posts from October 2009

October 30, 2009

Bring Color To Life on The Day of The Dead

My weekend was filled with treats and a few little tricks, too.  Today's the last day to leave a comment here for a chance to win a custom designed sugar skull like the ones here.  Michele at Sugar Skull Gallery in San Francisco painstakingly creates each one by hand with love.  They're a part of a great traditional Mexican festival, El Dia De Los Muertos, Nov 1st and 2nd, when families celebrate the lives of their dearest friends and relatives who've passed on.  It's a beautiful and rich event that offers a refreshing take on all things that were formerly spooky and scary. 

 Sugar skull 
Visit the Sugar Skull Gallery for original and colorful gifts like this an the one at the end of this post
 Skull gallery 2 
Sugar skulls are made with meringue powder and other ingredients.  They can be covered with icing, sequins, buttons, foil, or whatever you have to work with!  They're meant to be tiny works of art that cover altars and graves.  There's even a fan page for sugar skulls on Facebook!  

What did you do to celebrate over the weekend?  Costume party?  Playing tricks on people?  Pumpkin carving?  Face painting?  Eating colorful candy? 

If you'd like the chance to win one of 3 new sugar skulls that Michele and I are collaborating on.  leave a comment as your entry to win by 12am EST, Wednesday, November 4, 2009.  Three winners will be selected randomly and announced next week.  

A little more about El Dia De Los Muertos

Across the world, there are several festivals throughout the year that celebrate what would seem macabre at any other time of year.  The Obon Festival  in Japan, the Ghost Festival in China, El Dia De Los Muertos in Mexico, and All Saint's Day celebrate spirits and ancestors across the globe.  The beauty of all these festivals is the fact that they are about honoring those who have passed on in glorious, colorful ways. 

I was really curious about El Dia De Los Muertos, or the Day of the Dead.  It's just after Halloween running from November 1-2.  Rooted in pre-colonial Mexican heritage, it's a festival in joyous remembrance of loved ones who have moved to to the next phase in their life's journey.  The Day of the Dead has become an important cultural and spiritual tradition throughout many countries with strong Mexican communities and involves elaborate altar designs, ornate cemetery decor, specially prepared foods like pan de los muertos (bread of the dead), and individually crafted sugar skulls. 

Color is a big part of El Dia De Los Muertos, too.  According to The Official Mexican and Mexican-American Fine Arts Museum of Texas, color adds symbolism to the celebratory altars or ofrendas. 

El dia de los muertos colors

White-- Purity and hope

Purple-- Pain, mourning and suffering

Pink-- Celebration

Red-- The blood of life

Orange-- The Sun 

Yellow-- The petals of Marigolds called "cempazuchitle" that symbolize death are used to make a trail for spirits to see their path to the altars


Here are some traditional and contemporary expressions of El Dia De La Muertas that boast color and design in a rich way

Altar 1 Scad altar

The top altar was found by two travelers in Mexico.  Students at SCAD created the one below as part of a project.  Altars can pop up anywhere-- indoors or outdoors and usually boast a photo of the deceased, some favorite foods and symbolic offerings like water and salt.  No matter the details, they're always full of color!

Moo muerta 
 You can buy this "Moo Muerte" at CarmelaJay's Etsy Shop.  A more modern take on an altar, this piece still keeps the cultural and colorful nature of the celebration alive (pun intended).

Cemetery decorated 
Decorated cemeteries remind us that The Day of the Dead is bright and uplifting.  Visit this gallery on Flickr for Rainy City's complete album of amazing shots. 

Cultural symbolism can be very influential in life and a great source of inspiration for design and decor, too. 

Tell me how you are using culture, tradition, and color for your festivities this weekend for a chance to win a sugar skull!  

So now I have plans for the weekend-- Between tricks and treats, Michele of the Sugar Skull Gallery in San Francisco and I are working to create 3 colorfully custom designed sugar skulls for you to win! 

Leave a comment as your entry to win by 12am EST, Wednesday, November 4, 2009.  Three winners will be selected randomly and announced next week.  


October 26, 2009

Photographing Fall-- Color at it's Best

Weather channel fall 

All you Flickr addicts, listen up!  The Weather Channel can make you famous.  Well, at least, it can make you a winner.  They're sponsoring a $2500 Fall Photography contestthat has brought out some serious talent.  Here are a few of my favorites.  Click away and vote or be a part of the contest by entering your masterpiece.  The deadline is December 15, 2009, so start snapping soon!

James Sullivan Lake Tahoe 

James Sullivan's view of Lake Tahoe

Eloise Bolt Fall Colorado 

Eloise Bolt's take on Colorado

 Ultimate Destination
This is called "Ultimate Destination", but no photographer is listed.

If you decide to enter, I want to know about it!  Hopefully you'll win and remember the little people who helped you along the way.  Either way, I'd love to know: where have you seen the most memorable fall colors? 

October 22, 2009

Get the Door-- Color is Knocking!

Doors Ireland

Front Doors in Ireland-- What does your door say about you?


I've been getting lots of questions on exterior painting lately.  Though it's a little late in the season if you're in a very cold climate, in warmer locations, it's crisp outside and homes are begging for a little pre-holiday touch-up!  If you want a simple way to give your home a pick me up, start at your front door.


The interesting thing about any exterior project is that it really is public art.  This can be exciting or it can seem dreadful.  Being a glass-half-full kind of person, I see exteriors as a great way to share a little bit of your design and color sensibilities with the world.  Think of your front door as the spokesperson for your home.  What does yours say about your style?  Traditional or contemporary?  Bold or Muted?  Come in and sit a spell or just leave the package at the door? 


Both the architecture and color of the door set the tone for any guest and even for you.  It’s an easy fix to paint the door and make your home unique. There are many ways to find the right color. 


Some Ideas:

-Find a color from the sunrise or sunset- this can work anywhere and offers natural colors that will compliment the environment well while providing a unique color for your exterior. 




Take a cue from your landscaping.  Magnolia trees, rose bushes, peonies, etc. have a host of colors within each bud.  Look for the least prominent color like the hint of green in the magnolia flower or the darkest shade of red in your roses and use it on your front door.  It's a nice way to borrow from nature to compliment it.




Consider context- If you live on a waterfront, you may want to use a sea inspired hue.  Alternately, if you live in a mountainous region, look at the color of the rocks and soil around you for color ideas.




When selecting a color for the front door, remember that you can go deeper and more saturated than you would in the interior.  Because of sunlight and surroundings, colors appear lighter on an exterior. 


When selecting the color, look at it against a dark grey or black to give you an idea of what it will look like.  Remember lighting even on the outside- Make sure you have an energy efficient light bulb that renders color well so your colorful door can be seen as a beacon in the night.


Are you wondering what color to avoid on the front door?  In my opinion, a pure white is a poor choice because it will show every nick and ding.  Besides, it would be a lost opportunity to inject some experimental color into your life!  What's your favorite color for a front door?

October 20, 2009

Warm and Fuzzy Is The New Graffiti. Knitters Unite!

A friend and colleague (Hi, David!) dropped a bomb on me today.  Well, actually, he opened my eyes to the bombs of hugs being dropped by self proclaimed "Guerrilla Knitters" at Knitta, Please around otherwise dreary cityscapes.  Have you spotted one of these in your city yet?

Magda Sayeg started this movement in 2005 when she "yarn bombed" the door handle to her boutique in Houston, Texas.  Being a Houstonian who's forever dispelling "10-gallon-hat", "does-everyone-own-a- horse-there" stereotypes of the city myself, this makes me extremely happy.  It's the perfect example of a subtle southern statement of color and style that's executed in a gentle way that makes bold impact (and makes people smile).

Knit bomb door handle

The door handle that started it all at Magda's boutique, Raye 

Now, everyone's taking notice.  Over the years, the New York Times, Glamour, The Boston Globe, and even Saturday Night Live have called attention to this graffiti gone sweet across the globe.  Etsy did a great profile on the topic here.  Sure, there are lots of yarn bombers out there now, but I thought I'd dedicate this post to the originator of the craft.  Magda has done work in Germany, Paris, El Salvador, Australia, Milan, and I'm sure she has great plans ahead.  Her work has even included commissions for hospitality design through the new luxe style Standard Hotels in Hollywood and New York City. 

Here's a sampling of the Knitta Please! work.  All images are from the Knitta Please website and Flickr page.  The fantastic shots of the bus project are from Feynox.  

Make sure to visit both to see the full spectrum of their work.  Oh, of course, you can follow their new adventures via the Knitta Please Facebook fan page, too.  


Knitta please examples

So here's the question:  Do you see this as a form of public art or is it defacing public property?  I can say from my perspective, I think it's a touch of tactile color that brings in the design element I love most-- Surprise.  What do you think?



October 16, 2009

Do Blue or Think Pink?

Baby clothes color

Ever wonder about the whole pink is for girls, blue is for boys thing?  Here's an insightful article (and a fun read) on the topic written by Lauren Sandler at www.motherjones.com.  Her article talks about he ITP (infant, toddler, pre-school) clothing market and it's worth about $14 million!  And it's expanding to reach more pre-school princess girls and truck-toting toddler boys.

Did you know that back around the 1920s, blue was touted as the color for girls and pink for boys?  Ladies Home Journal reportedly wrote the following in June of 1918:

"There has been a great diversity of opinion on the subject, but the generally accepted rule is pink for the boy and blue for the girl.  The reason is that pink being a more decided and stronger color is more suitable for the boy, while blue, which is more delicate and dainty, is prettier for the girl."

This may make us question some traditions.  Should it be blue for boys and pink for girls?  From the photo above (that my son may never forgive me for sharing), you can tell I have my opinion, but what's yours?