I recently took a short but inspiring bookbinding class in upstate NY. It was hosted and organized by J. Morgan Puett, of Mildred’s Lane and The Mildred Complex(ity), and it was taught by one Leon Johnson. He, along with his wife Megan O’Connell, and son Leander, are the founders of Salt & Cedar, a letterpress studio located in the Eastern Market district of Detroit. They produce custom design work and printed matter – an extremely prosaic way of saying that they are extraordinary designers and thinkers. They also appear to have created a modern day salon of sorts, encompassing performance, food, film and more. This scarified hunk of beeswax is one of Leon’s tools. Bookbinding uses waxed thread as a means to hold together the sets of pages, which are called signatures. You can buy prewaxed thread, but most serious bookbinders prefer to wax their own. I was told that this piece, which, at the time I saw it only measured about 3.5″ x 2″ x 3″, began as quite a large block. Figure one or two pounds. It wasn’t just the beeswax that caught my attention. It was also the way Mr. Johnson used it to wax the thread. When someone is so accomplished at their craft/artform, they do things with complete ease and confidence, and a kind of artful rhythm. A ritual motion that is part of them, unlike the halting actions performed by relative neophytes.
I did a walkabout at the ICFF yesterday. As usual, I didn’t leave myself enough nearly enough time to take a leisurely stroll through the aisles. But, even at an accelerated pace, certain booths stood out far more than others. Oddly enough, this go around I ended up being most drawn to the textiles and rugs. Don’t get me wrong, there were plenty of other designs, and designers, that caught my attention. Alicia Adams Alpaca, by virtue of her color palette alone, was enough to stop me in my tracks. After looking at their site, I think it might be time for a little road trip.
I came upon this box of wooden eyeglass models when going through my mother’s house. The pieces were stacked on end, so it wasn’t immediately obvious what they were. Holy crap!!! What a crazy wonderful surprise. Howard G. Jones, my stepfather, was an industrial designer who was born in 1910. He knew how to do things the old fashioned way, and these treasures are perfect examples of his world of analog design.
Amazing color studies created by my stepfather Howard G. Jones, and his first wife Eleanor. I believe they were both in art school at the time. In 1926! The first in a series of posts on analog designs and quirky objects discovered in my mother’s home.
I really really like this little critter. Put him to work sharpening your pencils. Designed by Rodrigo Torres Kastor for Alessi. Not available yet. But soon. Soon. Makes a nice companion to his other design: a bird in the form of a paper clip holder. Oops…via designboom!
My friend Nancy is an accomplished surface designer who, over the years, has created a range of hand-painted dinnerware for various clients here and far. I asked her if she would send me the rough swatches of stripes and marks that are a product of her pattern development . She happily complied. This is only the smallest selection from her archive. Again, it’s the process that catches my eye. Sometimes I feel as though we are losing out to technology when it comes to the incremental stages of creativity. Maybe. Maybe not.
Chalkboard paint started it all. I think Martha Stewart popularized it. And then Dana Tanamachi took it to new and exciting heights. I speak of chalkboard lettering. An earlier post about Dana here. The nicely packaged Chalk is available here.