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 ice lollipops 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


Spring favorite # 4: Buttercup Flowerballs

These I actually made for Easter, but I just didn't have the time to share them here.

They are, of course, very Easterly, but if you like buttercups, I guess they may cheer you up any time of the year. Plus they are very easy to make, really, and quite fun. All you have to do print the sheet (one sheet makes a flowerball, and I made these on slightly heavy, ordinary printer paper), cut out the twelve petals, and sort of hinge them into a ball. See explanation on the PDF about printing on both sides of the paper (which makes a really nice effect on these).

I found a very instructive video on YouTube, on how to assemble them. Super easy!

They are a remake of the pink Hanami ones I made a few years ago, and I have scaled them down a bit, so they are slightly smaller, and changed the outline a bit. They pay tribute to one of my favorite garden weeds; the pretty, yellow buttercup. And in just the same way, you may stick a bit of string to the inside, before closing the last petal, if you want to make them into hanging decorations. 


Spring favorite # 3: Vivian Maier, street photographer

I went to Dunkers Kulturhus in Helsingborg and saw the exhibition of the photographs of the mysterious Chicago and New York nanny, Vivian Maier (1926 - 2009), who turned out to be a world class street photographer, but only received the recognition she so enormously deserved, after her death - and by sheer chance. 

The story of this private and unusual woman, who earned her ways as a nanny for wealthy Chicago and New York families for more than forty years, but simultaneously managed to take hundreds of thousands of sublime photographs of street life in the 50ties and 60ies - is quite amazing. 

Check out the documentary 'Finding Vivian Maier', it is a really intriguing story! (It's on Netflix at the moment).

Here is a very small taste of her wonderful work (starting with one of her many odd self portraits). So full of human empathy, so gentle - and yet sharp and unflinching. And her mastery of graphic composition, is almost like a thing secondary to that fantastic eye. I will never stop being curious about just what it is (besides a certain technical knowledge) that makes a great photographer. She sure was one. 

See much more on her official website - and be prepared to browse for a long time!


Spring favorite # 2: The Flower Queen

Marianne Eriksen Scott-Hansen is a Danish fashion artist / designer / stylist / general creative explosion - known by anyone who has followed experimental fashion here in DK for the past two decades. She works in all kinds of media, but her almost superhuman ways with the scissors are somehow central to much of what she does. When you read interviews with her, she often explains how she works intuitively, with very few templates, work drawings or such. She simply lets the scissors do the talking, and incredible things happen. 

At the moment she works almost entirely in paper, and her wild, textural visual style has really taken off in her current project: doing enormous flower installations in cheap tissue or crêpe paper. She emphasizes how she insists on working in the standard materials her local paper shop stocks (although the amounts of paper that she uses are not quite standard - she must be a wonderful customer for that paper shop!!), and how she does everything herself and by hand. 

I am simply breathlessly impressed and full of awe and wonder! It is stunning and abundant. The workload almost incomprehensible - and, it's all from plain paper and a pair (or several pairs) of ordinary scissors. Paper truly is a magic material (as I keep insisting on).

Please enjoy these few pictures of Marianne Eriksen Scott-Hansens Easter decor in the Royal Copenhagen flagship store - and, I think, from a backdrop for the ELLE style awards (just two of her many, many supersize flower extravaganzas).

All photos are from her instagram, where you should follow her and fall in love with her work as well.


Spring favorite # 1: Modulor in Berlin

Hope you're all enjoying spring, which is turning into summer her in Cph!

I've been very busy, but have collected a few thoughts and loose ends, so even though I have a bit of a blog break at the time, let me welcome you to my little series of Spring Favorites!

We took a small Spring break in Berlin some weeks ago, and I love love love Berlin. I could write a lot about that place, and we had some sunny and lovely days on our visit, so I have lots of blogging material, so to speak, loads of photos and such. But I actually only want to share this one tip with you!

I've been to Berlin quite a few times before, and it's a city full of change, energy and exiting things, and every time you come, there is a whole new neighborhood or scene to check out. And the shopping, oooh! In my view the very best shopping spot in Europe - as far as I'm concerned, anyway. I have it pretty well mapped out, and have lots of must-visit-shops.

Which is why it is a bit odd - with my almost lifelong passion for paper and art supply shops - that I have never visited this utterly and completely fantastic shop before. But this time I finally went!

If you, as I do, love that kind of shops - look no further. This is seriously the best there is, and I would travel to Berlin for this shop alone. 

Niftily situated right next to Moritzplatz U-Bahn Station, and near the Design College - and opposite a small park, where they have nice street food vendors in the Summer - it is an absolutely must from now on, for my future visits. As driving there is fairly easy and quick from Copenhagen, I contemplate going there on a shopping expedition with an empty trunk! Oh, man, did they have some nice stuff I would like to own.

Because, not only do they have EVERYTHING you can possibly imagine in the way of papers, modelling materials, glues, paints, colors, pencils, markers, stickers, tools, metal bits and bobs, decorating materials and aaaaaaaaall that. No, no - they also have probably the most interesting selection of affordable storage and office/workplace furnishings and accessories I saw in a long time. 

So, I am having a real retail love thing going on here.

We drove in a car stuffed to the brim with four adults and two kids and all the luggage relevant to such a setup, so my friend and I had to stick to fun (small) paper products. I filled a bag, and here is a little bit of it...

(- and the wooden thingy? Well, that is a carrying handle, of course. A small, but significant, freebie from their packaging table, after the checkout. They obviously have this huge table, with free wrapping paper, bubble wrap, different kinds of tape, string, scissors, cutting knives etc. so that you can wrap your purchase properly. And anyone who have carried a heavy, big or oddly shaped parcel, knows just how big a difference such a handle can make! God is in the detail and Modulor is one cool shop.)


Happy Easter - and see you in a while!

Easter and spring is here, and it is simply wonderful.

In a little while I'll be taking off to Berlin with my family for some restful days, and I just can't wait!

I have an awful lot on my hands at the moment, and will be putting the sort-of-weekly blog posts on hold for the summer. I might do the occasional recap, but otherwise I'll be back sometime in Autumn - because I do have lots and lots of ideas for paper designs, for wonderful things I feel like writing about and stuff to get curious about.

Have a fabulous Spring and Summer, and if you stopped by this blog for DIY's and inspiration, be sure to use the special page that links to all my posts with origami projects, free printables and so on - you will find it right here - or get inspired by my Pinterest boards.


Transparent Origami

My collection of paper is rather massive, and sometimes I force myself to go through the drawers, but I always end up not throwing anything away. I mean, I collect bits of gift wrap, interesting tickets and napkins, candy wrappers and pages from old foreign newspapers with interesting fonts. Road maps, beer coasters and that silky paper nice shops wrap up the clothes in, before it goes in the bag. Jeez. Those are some full drawers.

The other day I came across some of that lovely heavy and crisp egg shell white tracing paper - 'kalke' - we used at Architecture School, for doing the final drawings before they went to the printers. It's a bit parchment like, and semi transparent. It gave me the idea to make some origami that has that transparency as a sort of extra effect. The tracing paper turned out to be the most brilliant origami paper! The folds get super sharp, and it is strong, but still smooth, not coarse. Plus it slides through the printer like no problem!

I thought these so called gyroscopes were great in this kind of paper, because all the modules are made by double layers. So I made a design with a lot of random stripey patterns, and they look nice on top of each other. 

To make a 'spinning gyroscope' (click here for PDF tutorial) you need twelve rather small origami squares to form six double star like shapes, that slides into each other in a really cool way! This is an easy and very satisfying modular origami project. I'm on my way to more complicated modular things, I think, but I'm not quite there yet!

I made this easy for you - just print the ones that I have made for you, in four pretty colors, cut them, and give it a go! These are fun to make, I promise!

See end of the blog post for info on tracing paper.

Get the 12-mini-origami-sheets PDF!

What is tracing paper?

The paper I used was this kind, and you should be able to get something like it in any paper webshop or well stocked stationary or art supplies shop. Just gently tug the individual sheets off, and feed them into your printer tray. 

If you print a lot of dense patterns and color on tracing paper, you should leave it to dry for a while, before you start working with it.


Lunch on top of the world (sort of)

I have covered the fantastic place I go skiing with my family every year in blog posts before, here and here, but there is this special spot we've become very enthusiastic about, and it's definitely worth it's very own post. So here's where we had lunch a couple of weeks ago.

Restaurant Tusen is situated on a quite steep mountain slope, and you can only get to it on skis or by snow scooter. But there it is, quite impossible to imagine how they built it - and you can have a very tasty lunch indeed (for instance a gourmet reindeer hot dog with creamy mushrooms, yum. See last image!), or a hot chocolate and a kanelbulle. And stretch those tired legs. 

Clad in birch logs, and inspired by a sami tent - or a kåta - it looks like no other skiing facility I've ever seen! It was designed by Murman Architects from Stockholm, and built in 2009. If you happen to swing by Ramundberget in Härjedalen, do visit this place!