Category Archives: art

Love This Guy

I’ve had this drawing on my desktop for ages. Whenever I need a little chuckle I pull it up and read it.

Now, I’ve discovered that the artist, Marc Johns, not only sells prints, he sells t-shirts too! I think I’m going to have to get a t-shirt with the pipe smoking rabbit.

Just go and check out his stuff. You will laugh! And laughing is good for the soul!


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The Art of Photography

A few weeks back I had the pleasure and privilege to attend an Art Wolfe seminar at Portland State University. I’ve admired Art Wolfe’s work for quite a while and when I saw he was going to be in town I had to go.

First off, I want to say that Art (I can call him Art now that I’ve met him and he signed one of my books and he’s my new BFF, right?!) is a super nice, funny man who does not convey any sort of pompousness that one might think a person with his talent might have. I was actually a bit surprised at how down to earth he was.

I’ve been a quasi-photographer ever since I took my first photography class during my sophomore year in college. I enjoyed it enough that I minored in it (with a major in journalism) at Purdue. Since I’m not much (or any, really) of a painter, drawer or sculptor, photography is my form of art. I love looking at photography and dreaming of going to exotic places to shoot photos – especially after the Art Wolfe seminar where he talked about the trips he’ll be hosting to places like China, India and Japan.

But since it’s not in my immediate future to travel to such places, I have to make due with local opportunities. Which is fine, for now. Here are a few of my recent shots…

Another one of my take-aways from the Art Wolfe seminar was that he said a photo is more engaging if you capture a scene/person/animal/landscape not as you normally see it. Find a unique perspective, use a lens that offers a wide angle, use filters to change the color or exposure, change the depth of field – it’s all OK. Art admits that though he’s in the business of documenting culture and wildlife, his work is art.

“You should live in a place that uplifts your spirits,” Art said. “If you live for photography but don’t have your photos in your house, there is a disjunct.” When I got home, I got to thinking about this statement and realized that maybe I’m on the right track – I have lots of my own photos hanging in my home plus some photos taken by a friend of mine – and Art Wolfe books on my coffee table!

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Cool Glass

A couple weeks ago, the family took a little road trip up to Tacoma, Wash. Our original intentional was to spend the weekend in Gig Harbor, go sightseeing in Puget Sound and have a lovely time. Unfortunately, the weather stunk so we only spent one night and went home after spending little time sightseeing. But alas, we did go to the Museum of Glass in Tacoma, and it was wonderful!

Tacoma is the hometown of Dale Chihuly, the famed glass artist. I don’t feel quite educated enough on the matter to describe Chihuly’s involvement with the museum, but suffice it to say, if Chihuly weren’t Tacoma’s hometown boy, there probably wouldn’t be a Museum of Glass.

Glass sculpture on the Chihuly Bridge of Glass - photo by alyse vordermark

Anyhow, the museum is linked to downtown Tacoma by the 500-foot pedestrian Chihuly Bridge of Glass. The glass art on the bridge is spectacular way to be welcomed, and even though it was a cloudy day when we visited, the glass illuminating.

Fluent Steps by Martin Blank - photo by alyse vordermark

These hand-sculpted pieces of clear glass sit in a reflecting pool outside the entrance to the museum. The glass appears to water suspending in air. Beautiful!

Inside most areas of the museum, for obvious reasons, photography is not allowed. However, we were able to take a few photos inside The Hot Shop. The Hot Shop is a working glass studio/amphitheater where visiting artists work their magic in front of an audience.

The Hot Shop cone - photo by alyse vordermark

The Hot Shop is housed inside a 90-foot cone.

The Hot Shop

The visiting artists work with a team of five glass blowers, the Hot Shop Team, who are museum regulars. The day we were there, the visiting artist (the bearded man in the back) and the team were working on a glass pick-up truck. It was very fascinating watching the “blobs” of glass formed into a truck – even my 3-year-old daughter sat mesmerized.

So even though our Puget Sound weekend might be considered a bust, I’m so glad we got a chance to go to the Museum of Glass. It would have been a highlight, no matter how the trip turned out!

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High Cool Factor for Tel Aviv

I used to browse Etsy on a daily basis when I had my own little shop there selling handbags. I slipped away from it for a while, but I’ve found the light again recently. What’s odd though is that I’ve discovered several Etsy sellers in Tel Aviv that I love. Tel Aviv? Is Tel Aviv cool now, and I missed the memo? Yes, I think I did.

12 tiny portraits by behappynow

I bought these tiny portraits from behappynow and LOVE them. I’m going to get them framed in some unique way (still deciding how that will be) and put them in the new dining room.

Then there’s the clothes…

Crocheted crop top by duende74

It’s been so chilly here in Portland this spring that this sweater by duende74 caught my eye. I’m hoping that if I buy it I won’t actually get a chance to wear it for several months!

My must have top by Galalabel

But I know summer is on it’s way – it’s got to be, right? So this hot little number from Galalabel jumped out at me (Sorry for the tiny photo). I love the ruching at the sides – good way to hide my little tummy that I thank my kids for.

Handmade Lampwork Beads Red in Clear Glass Discs by NadinGlassico

I went through a jewelry-making phase several years ago, but I think these gorgeous handmade glass beads by NadinGlassico might just push me back into it.

Business card holder by ArtisEverything

I don’t have an office to display my business cards, but I’m thinking that this would look cool in my home office (a.k.a. my kitchen)!

All I can say is…Tel Aviv is cool!


Filed under art, inspiration, shopping, style

Abandoning Photography

Back in the day, I lived in a little town called Minneapolis. It was a simpler time. Newly married, little house (not on the prairie), new kitten, no kids, and lots of good friends. Where am I going with this? Not sure – sometimes my mind just wanders.

Oh, here’s where I’m going…back in Minneapolis, I have a good friend named John who I met when I was working for a small catalog/advertising company. I was the sole female among the 7-person copywriting staff, which wasn’t a surprise since the company specializes in motorcycle parts and accessories. John was, and still is, the head photographer for the company. He shoots a tailpipe like no one else! But on the side, he photographs some amazing landscapes.

Twin Butte School - Abandoned North Dakota by John Piepkorn

Landscapes is a bit confining for what John photographs because it is much more than that. His “specialty” is shooting abandoned buildings and ghost towns in the upper Midwest, mainly Minnesota and North Dakota. His family probably finds him a bit crazy as he ventures into abandoned, dilapidated buildings to document the odd, interesting stuff people leave behind. It’s quite fascinating, somewhat voyeuristic – and very beautiful.

Left Hanging - abandoned Minnesota by John Piepkorn

After spending an inordinate amount of time looking at his gallery on Flickr, I was thrilled when John agreed to sell me some of his prints. I love the idea of having original artwork. And I love the idea of having a friend’s original art in my home.

Hudson Police Cruiser by John Piepkorn

John has had his work recognized in lots of local publications and websites like the Minneapolis Star Tribune’s Top Reader Pictures from 2009 (11th photo in the slideshow) and the City of Minnetonka’s 2008 Photo Contest (honorable mention).

If anyone is interested in adding John’s photographs to their collection, you can email him: j_piepkorn65 (at) yahoo (dot) com [sorry for the cryptic email address but spamming stinks] or contact him through Flickr (if you’re a Flickr member). He’s a great guy with a great eye!


Filed under art, decorating, photography

Summer Carnival

I’ve had some fun lately using the online photo editing site, Picnik. I love that you can upload your photos and do cool effects without the commitment of buying a program like Photoshop.

Here’s some of the photos I’ve taken over the past couple summers – enhanced with Picnik.

Swings at the Oregon State Fair

Chicago's Navy Pier

Motorcycle Ride at the Oregon State Fair


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We Wish You a Crafty Christmas

Warning: If you are one of my relatives and don’t want to know what some of your Christmas gifts are, don’t read this post. Read it in 10 days!

I’m no Martha Stewart, but I do try. I find that letting my creative side come out, whether it’s through making handbags or greeting cards or trying to arrange flowers, makes me happy. I also think that giving kids a creative outlet in a semi-controlled environment is a good thing. I was at a kids’ function (I’m being purposefully vague here as to not hurt anyone’s feelings) not long ago where the kids were to make scrapbook pages. They were given lots of paper, scissors, markers, photos – all the usual scrapbooky stuff. I must say here that with all the crafty endeavors I have, scrapbooking is not one of them. Anyhow, back to the kids’ scrapbooking…some of the parents were obviously very into scrapbooking and were getting upset with the kids when they weren’t following conventional scrapbooking methods of centering pictures and cutting straight lines and such. I was truly shocked at how Type A some of these folks were being with the kids. I was helping my son out by handing him the tape and glue sticks. I figured he had an idea of how he wanted his pages to look so why should I impose on that. They’re his pages.

I don’t mean to sound like I’m a better parent or anything because I let my kid do what he wanted. I just think it’s great to see what comes out of the minds of my little ones. A child’s mind is open and has no concept of conventional art. Why not let them go nuts while they still want to?!

But I digress…

This Christmas has been a crafty one in my house. More crafty than in years past. And it’s been fun. Here’s what we’ve been up to:

Printable Calendars – I found some cool shops on Etsy that offer PDF files of calendars that you print out yourself. I bought three different calendars all for around $5 each, the Etsy sellers emailed me the files, and I printed them out multiple times as gifts for various people. One of them had a blank top half on each month on which I let the kids draw and color on. I think grandmas and aunts will love having original art by the kids.

Printable Calendar by A Little Hut

Painted Picture Frames – I went to Michael’s and bought a couple unfinished wooden frames for about $3 each and had the kids paint all over them however they wanted. My boy painted his camouflage for his grandpa. Grandpa will love it!

Santa's Workshop

Wooden Ornaments – Again, at Michael’s I bought a bunch of unfinished wood ornaments that are also little picture frames. I had each kiddie paint five of them and then printed out pictures of them to put in.

Photo Envelopes – I’ve been a bit lax about printing out family pictures and sending out to the relatives throughout the year. So when I got on Shutterfly and ordered 300 prints, yes 300, I figured I needed a nice way to present them to everyone. I found an Amy Butler card and envelope pattern and used it to make a cute photo holder. A little cardstock, a little cutting, a little gluing, a little decorating by the kids, and done.

Greeting Cards – My mom was telling me a couple months ago that she has had a hard time finding sets of cards to put into her “stash.” She has always kept a drawer full of greeting cards so that when someone’s birthday or anniversary rolls around, all she has to do is open the drawer and mail it out. Smart. I’ve been saving fortunes from fortune cookies for I don’t know how long. A lightbulb went off. Make greeting cards with all the fortunes. So I scanned in a couple dozen fortunes and placed them each on a Pages/Word document, printed them on cardstock, cut them out, and folded them. I bought coordinating cardstock and envelopes to make them a little more professional. Greeting card set, check.

Fortune Cookie Fortunes for Greeting Cards

Phew. I’m worn out. None of these were actually very hard. It takes a little time and preparation, but I think worth it.

Merry Crafty Christmas!

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