Color Explosion (Marrakech part one)

I had a lovely trip to Marrakech last week.

I'm back in business, but with a nasty cold, and a lot of deadlines. While I pull myself together and try to get better, I dream of this crazy, colorful labyrinth of a city. I close my eyes and smell the thé á la menthe, the gasoline fumes, the heavy perfumes and the incense. And I think of the orange blossom crème brûlée, the yummy breakfast pancakes and the tajine de poulet aux figues.

Marrakech is sensory overload in so many ways - most of them nice!
Here is a handful of snapshots (yes, too many. I know. I found it very hard to select a small batch, and hope they might inspire you). 

I'll be back later in the week with a nice Christmas project, so see you then.


The start of Advent with Finn's Lanterns

These little diamond shaped lanterns will be my first Christmas gift for all the faithful paper DIY enthusiasts, who will be expecting at least a little project for the weekends, in the weeks to come. 

They are easy and fun to make, and I have named them after a friend of my son, who will sometimes get up very early in the morning, pick up a phone from his still sleeping parents, and find origami instruction videos on YouTube, and while away some quiet morning hours, folding and folding. Just my kind of kid! So thank you, Finn - I had never seen these before, and they look great. 

I made them into hanging ornaments, but they could be little gift boxes as well. And they could be hanging both ways - I just like the Chinese vibe they get in this version, with a little tassel. The string and tassel you could pull through with a needle, before you actually glue and close the form, that's a bit easier. I tied the little knots, after I had put the string in place. But check out the instructions. 

Happy first of Advent!


A few days in a parallel universe. Can't wait!

I will be ignoring the fact that December is just around the corner, for a little while longer. And I will be doing it in Marrakech, which should be very well suited for this kind of procrastination. Me and my two friends will hit the hammams and the souks and get back in a week or so, with soft, rosy feet and languid minds!!

I love Marrakech. The top photo (by Takashi Nakagawa / National Geographic) is from the Ben Yussuf Medersa (a sort of dorm and study hall for religous scholars), a place I will re-visit, certainly. Probably one of the most beautiful buildings I have ever seen!

Oh, and the food. And the colours, the smells, the slender palms and the really nice locals! And the shopping - an event in itself. Everyone in my family can anticipate sticky, black soap and loads of aromatic spices for Christmas, this year.



I'll be at FindersKeepers on the weekend 19-20 November - a really nice designers market. This time it's held in the old green grocers market hall in Valby, and it's much worth visiting: lots and lots to see (and buy) - and great food stalls too!

Proud to be included in this really great company and looking much forward to it. In my little stall, I will be selling my 24 Days Advent Calendar Gift Wrap, of course, and I hope to see you there!

Read all about it right here - and take a peak at all the great potential Christmas shopping you could do there.

FindersKeepers on Instagram (images above are from here)


Fingers crossed

Update, later on Tuesday: This is very disturbing.

Now, I will put my whole trust in the common sense and optimism that made so many people work so hard for the better option. May they - no, we - have the guts to keep on going.


November first with these babies

November first kind of marks the point where this blog begins to think about Christmas coming up, and to consider which various projects from the desk drawer, that might turn into this years fun paper DIY's. I never plan too much ahead of time, I gather a lot of ideas all year round, and sometimes work a bit on one or two. And I almost always end up doing something different than what I planned in the first place, anyway.

The paper balls from last year were a spur-of-the-moment idea that took me a few hours to make, from making my first prototype (I have not invented the principle - I saw that somewhere), trying out a whole lot of patterns, and deciding on the ones I liked the most. Then I made the finished design for the download, and a photo tutorial, just as quickly. 

Other times I have spend several evenings of experimenting with some idea, that ends up in the trash. Just so you know!

But the plopping baubles were a great hit, they have more than a thousand downloads, and have been pinned on Pinterest an unusual number of times, for this blog! So I guess I'll try not to think too hard about this years Christmas gifts for you, and just let them happen. And they will.

In November I am also working on setting up shop in some way, for my Advent Calendar Gift Wrap! Right now my Tictail shop is closed, alas, since shipping via mail from DK have has become so unreasonably expensive. But do contact me, if you want to buy some, we'll figure it out!


Autumn Leaves - as lanterns

These fragile lanterns I made the other day turned out quite pretty, so I'll share them here, and maybe inspire you to make some for your own Autumnal party, Halloween get-together or such. 

They are not long lived, but quickly and easily made. 

It started with a walk in our next door little park, which is in itself interesting as leaves go, because it is a university botanical garden, so rare, unusual and colorful leaves are abundant! But any leaves will do, and most leaves are beautiful, somehow. 

Rather blurry photos, I know, but they were taken in near darkness. 

But they were so pretty, and the shadows and silhouettes were most poetic.You need to decide to make them for a party, or something like that, because they will loose color and stability rather fast! So enjoy them while they last...

I made the lanterns the day after I gathered the leaves, while they still had some life in them (= not too dry), so I used actual tea lights in small glass jars, but already next day they were so dry and withered, that I didn't want to light the candles again. But I have some LED tea lights from IKEA that are actually quite nice, and they went in instead. They still look nice, all dried up!

Here is what I did:

I gathered a lot of different sizes and shapes of leaves that were still fresh with some color and sap - and flattened them a bit between the pages of a newspaper with a stack of books on top. 

Next day I made the lanterns like this: organized the leaves a bit according to size, and lined them up nicely, overlapping a bit like this: 

I dotted a bit of hot glue, not too tidily, between the leaves (lifting them one by one) and pressed the row flat with my hand, and let it dry for a short while....

Then I cut a neat, sharp line with my steel ruler and knife, and to close the loop in the back, I simply used my office stapler. 

PLEASE be careful with the real tea lights - these things can become a bit of a fire hazard, but not so if the leaves are freshly gathered, and have just fallen off the trees. Otherwise use battery powered mini LED lights!


While you enjoy the flickering light and the dancing shadows on the wall, I suggest you listen to this lovely, lovely song, performed by the unforgettable Eva Cassidy.



Welcome back in color

Without further ado, I'll just say welcome back to my visitors, after a long summer break! Autumn is a time of color and at the moment I have a slight obsession with so called gradients.

Gradients are a particular color effect known to all Adobe users, it is a way of making colors slide and melt seamlessly into each other, and create interesting, sometimes very 3D, effects. And sometimes they just look horrible, I must admit. When I started working with graphic design, particularly Adobe Illustrator, color gradients were considered in the worst possible taste, and could only be justified if you had to make natural looking glass or metal surfaces on, say, a technical/architectural illustration. Otherwise they were just no go

But I can't have been the only one who have loved to play with the little color swatch slider tools, forever getting lost in more and more weird looking blends and fadings.

I find it great, that they are no more on the graphic design black list!

They can be quite complicated to work with, and not only because you have to be really good at isolating certain areas in an illustration from others, to make them technically work, but also because they tend to get quite overwhelming.

I've come across Sara Andreasson on Instagram, she's a funky Swedish graphic artist, who did the popsicles above, and also does these fat, lovely slobs of pastel color that kind of pops out from the screen!

They kind of remind me of Roy Lichtenstein's brush stroke paintings, even though these paintings are the very opposite thing: three dimensionality made with flat color, quite amazing, in fact. I've always loved those!

But I've saved the most elegant use of gradients I've seen for a long time, for last.

Danish graphic designer Torsten Lindsø Andersen, have made this series of proposed designs for Jack Kerouac's novels, and they have deservedly been spotted by many book design enthusiasts. They look like nothing else I've seen, and they are quite stunning. And they add a metaphysical and yet really appealing vibe to litterature, that's probably not easy to make covers for, without rolling around in clichés. 

I really like them, and they made me want to read the books again!

This is a student project of his, from 2012, but looks super fresh, and if I was Penguin Books, I'd certainly give him a call. 

I did actually read both On The Road and Dharma Bums (not Lonesome Traveller, though) when I was around twenty, but I didn't like them much, I remember struggling to actually finish them. I don't exactly remember why. Maybe it would be an entirely different experience now, some thirty years later?

Don't say we don't judge books by their covers.


Summer and a bit of rainy day folding

There is no way around it: summer is here, and today my vacation starts. It has been passionately longed for! We are heading South and hope for some hot, sunny days, but as our trip starts in the Tyrolean Alps, we'd better pack sweaters. They actually have gone below zero (nighttime!) in the past week. But the days are supposed to be warmer, and we will be going to Italy as well, and hope for the best. Here it has been cold lately, actually so cold that evenings are spent indoors - which feels crazy if you have a garden! But that is just the way Danish summer sometimes is, and that's that.

I have actually done some origami, something I rarely do much of in summer, otherwise. I have been wanting to try some slightly more complicated modular origami (like Klara here), and a while ago, I purchased a book by the queen of kusudama, Ekaterina Lukasheva. Anyone who has ever googled for origami instructions, has come across her. As her instructions seem to be very well made, and because I believe in supporting the arts (!) - I got myself one of her books from Amazon, to try these more tricky origami techniques. Kusudama are spherical constructions of many similar folded paper modules, that hinge or slide into each other in clever ways. The original meaning in Japanese, 'medicine ball' derives from the practice of filling them with healing herbs or incense, and keep them as health talismans around the house. 

I checked out the beautiful book, and one rainy evening I decided to try to make this seemingly easy kusudama: a crocus. I went for the 18 units version, rather than the 30 units one - and just folding the basic unit gave me a bit of trouble. I struggled on, and some hour later, I had managed the so apparently simple unit, times eighteen. And then to assembly! Let me just tell you that I swore. I perspired. I sighed and polished my glasses, a lot. And I really, really tried. I even found a video on YouTube. After three hours I gave up (in the end I even sunk to the desperate level of using a stapler to keep the damned bits in place). 

But I did learn something, as one always does, when things go to shits. I leaned that I had start with something simpler, and look for a kusudama model that didn't necessarily look 'easy', but had a different construction principle, and then I got to think about these. I googled and found one that seemed to work a bit like them - and the pink 'Spiky Kusudama' you see in the picture, is the result, and my very first attempt. It was a brilliant beginners project (and only 12 units!!), so if you would like to try for yourself, follow this tutorial.


Festival time

Outside my window it's pouring down, and I'm leaving for my first wet Roskilde Festival in years. We are going almost every year, and haven't been to a rainy one, since late 90ies! The rainy festivals are always legendary in their own, odd way. You kind of compete over having had the worst Roskilde rain experiences, and being old enough to say, that my first festivals were in a single layer tent, with a sort of loose bottom tarp, I think I can compete in that parlor game. I also went in 1997, which was just insanely wet. The area was so deeply muddy that year, that you literally had to manually drag your boots out, every step. See? I'm already rambling...! But I love the festival, even though it's a bit of a trial as well.

I wrote a bit about the orange feeling last year. Last year was yet another really great (and sunny!) festival, with lots of great musical surprises - the main reason I go. I go to fall in love with bands or artists I haven't been aware of, or listened much to previously, and always go home, feeling I have made new friends, sort of. 

2015 was a real ladies year for me!

One of the biggest thrills was a fantastic show with Florence and the Machine, just crazy great. She took the crowd completely by storm, as I have later found out she usually does. She's one of those artists that hasn't really sunk in with me on the radio - but wow, seeing her and the band live, really did it for me.  

This one was unpredictable. I hadn't heard of Goat (even though they actually played on RF another year, but that gig I missed), but it sounded interesting. Mysterious, masked afro/psychedelic/trance band from Northern Sweden? What's not to like about that? It was mindblowing. Probably one of the best experiences last year. Here are the two female anonymous singers leading the woodoo session!

Now, First Aid Kit, also from Sweden, I knew quite well, but it was my first live experience with them, and I hope for more of those! Total musical mastery, breathtakingly beautiful singing and such charming manners. Wow.

The last lady I will mention, would probably not appreciate being called a lady at all. Nor is she the actual main offender in the band - but she does get quite a bit of the attention! It's Yolandi Visser - aka ¥O-LANDI VI$$ER, from the super tacky, loud, vulgar and quite irresistible rave collective Die Antwoord, from South Africa. I band I can safely say I would have never heard live, had I not been to Roskilde. Quite an unforgettable experience! Check out some of their stuff on YouTube and get intriqued, as I did!

To everyone out there going to this or other festivals: have a great one, happy and peaceful, I hope - and full of surprises!

Photo credits:
Florence and the Machine: Kasper Månsson / Soundvenue
Goat: Kimberly Ross
First Aid Kit: Samy Khabthani
Die Antwoord: Lasse Lagoni