Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Musings of an Artsy Highschool Kid -- on alternative mediums and methods

Ever reach under your desk or chair and accidentally touch a piece of gum? If you’re lucky, it’s hard and dried and been there for several years. If you’re immediately go wash your hands. Most people agree that chewed gum stuck on something is gross.

Sticky Situation by Sally Choe, 2011

This is a piece my friend Sally did for AP Studio Art last year, using normal things like charcoal and then some less common things like gravel. And chewed gum. It should have been disgusting – well, it kind of was – but all of us crowded around it anyway, utterly fascinated. I studied it for awhile, wondering at how the use of gum in artwork suddenly made it something I really wanted to poke. She’d taken something off-putting and made it interesting.

I had been struggling with my own work for the class, which at the time just bored me. After seeing Sally’s piece, I started exploring alternative mediums and methods for inspiration. I found a lot – and learned that sometimes trying ridiculous things can really pay off. The more impossible it seems the better. If you’re looking for inspiration of your own, here are a few examples:

Elements of Existence by Nick Gentry, 2011

Painted on discarded floppy disks

Bob Dylan by Iri5

Made from old cassette tape

Dream Vacation by Ghost of a Dream (artist duo: Adam Eckstrom and Lauren Was)

Made of discarded lottery tickets

Michelangelo’s “Hand of God”, recreated by Josh Chalom

Made of 12,090 Rubik’s Cubes

P!nk by Jason Mecier

Mosaic portrait made from donated celebrity trash.

These are just some examples - I, at least, won’t be stopping here. Alternative methods are just as much about having fun with art as they are about producing ‘good’ work, so I plan on enjoying myself – and dare you to try something new.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Eco-Friendly Fashion

I had an opportunity to speak at a meeting of Queens Holistic Mom's Network last night about "eco-friendly fashion."  I have been a fashion designer for about 15 years, and this is an important topic to me.   I am no expert, but I have opinions.
babyNOIR's upcycled vintage Sari dress

Trying to be a responsible consumer is a confusing thing - it encompasses many issues: to be responsible for my own health, for my neighborhood, for my country, for the fellow human beings, for our environment, for our climate, and for my child, to teach her to be responsible.

Sticking to organic cotton is good, right? - It's good for your body, but what about all the desertification it's causing in Central Asia?  How about bamboo fabric? - it doesn't need much water or any pesticides, but process requires some serious chemical, it's essentially rayon.  Overseas manufacturing should be avoided, right? - Ready to shut down often the only means of survival for hard working people in developing countries?  Ready to pay a lot more for not necessarily better quality?  The best denim comes from Japan, and most beautiful wool yarn comes from Italy.  Buy everything second-hand! - EVERYTHING? I think not.

Star Trek future in spandex
Fashion is a dirty industry, in many levels, just like many other.  The whole process of making clothes pollutes the surroundings from obtaining raw material to trucking the finished garments packed in poly bags.  Unless we all want to be in the Star Trek future where everyone wears the recycled spandex suits, we have to be sensible about making decisions.   

Buy smart, and don't own much.  Buy things that you can wear for a long, long time.  Buy clothes second-hand and alter them so they're cute and updated.  Buy from Manufacturers whose ideology resonates with yours whenever you can.  (Boycot Walmart, I say.)  Buy local, whenever you can. Then, you have the conscience credit towards that Vivian Westwood you fell in love with. 

Do Not Sacrifice Your Sense Of Style. 

Wednesday, March 9, 2011



DID YOU KNOW….that from the 1920s to the 1960s, the original New Orleans Mardi Gras parade throw beads were made of glass? 

Individually hand-strung on cotton thread, they were like colorful mini-Christmas balls, first imported from Japan (like Kazuki). 

Unfortunately, very few of these early beads survived the throws, let alone the decades.  So by the 1930s most of Mardi Gras beads were more durable molded glass imported from Czechoslovakia, and later, from India. 

These varied from glitzy imitations of fine jewelry -- faceted beads in graduated sizes and jewel colors for Carnival Queens -- to randomly-strung molded glass in a riot of shapes and colors.   

There were Egyptian Revival and Art-Deco influenced forms, and, later, simple geometric shapes and bright Moderne colors.   Others imitated natural stones and gems and the Native American, African or Greek mythological themes of the Mardi Gras "krewes" that awarded them to adoring audiences.

Old Czech molded beads have had a revival, and new beads are on the market made from older molds.   But the original Mardi Gras necklaces have their own charm, and carry the esprit of Carnival with them. 

Gorgona Studio’s Krewe de Tchèque’s collection repurposes vintage beads from broken strands collected in New Orleans into nostalgic jewelry which you can wear all year round. 
This collection is exclusive in NYC to Creators’ Co-op!
We thought you might like to share in the fun this holiday, and throw a little love back to the Crescent City.   For the month or March, we offer 10% off to you -- and 20% to the New Orleans Musicians Relief Fund: . This organization aids musician families displaced by Katrina, arranges for donations of musical instruments and sound equipment to schools and students, and organizes cultural events supporting the affected communities.  These folks  still need our help -- to survive and, as well, to continue their cultural traditions.

But if you don’t need a Mardi Gras bead necklace (though we don’t know why not), please check out NOMRF’s website, and maybe throw them some love on your own (and perhaps buy one of their cool posters, CDs or t-shirts).   

Happy Mardi Gras !

Thursday, March 3, 2011

The Power of Gemstones - Agate

People have been drawn to gemstones since the beginning of time, and in today's modern world I feel that wearing handmade jewelry is an important way we can connect to mother nature. The decoration of ourselves with metals such as silver and gold and stones such as diamonds and quartz can have profound effects on our lives. Simply wearing a piece of jewelry can make you feel more beautiful and powerful, and many cultures believe crystals can physically heal the body.

Be it for well-being or vanity, it's fun to explore the many different minerals out there and notice which ones speak to us personally. This year, I was especially drawn to agates, especially druzy agates, which receive their beautiful sparkle from crystalized water on their surface.

Agate, a type of quartz, is thought to promote physical and emotional balance. They aid in self-acceptance, self-awareness, and, when worn upon the chest, can overcome heartache. But even if you don't believe in all that, they can still make you look damn good and bring a smile to your face!

Sunday, February 27, 2011

T-shirt hand-printing class

It is a gorgeous day and people are out enjoying the blue sky.  We had 8 RSVP on the T-shirt printing class, but only 3 came in - which worked out great because then we had lots of room to spread!

Every artist's hand is different, so as we all use the same material and technique, each piece came out unique.

We were all in good spirits, and had fun admiring each others' handiwork.

It was a perfect Sunday afternoon, complete with a visit by Astoria Times' Ms. Christina Santuca taking photos.  She promised us she'd take only flattering photos of us, so we'll see.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

new window for the new season!

It was supposed to be warmer today we thought, but wasn't.  That didn't deter our little 16-year-old intern Sofia!
We are looking to the festivity of the season coming up for inspiration - the promise of spring, warm weather, feathers and sparkles of Carnaval!

Sofia didn't disappoint! 

We will be having our YAY WE'RE STILL HERE! PARTY on March 4th in the Carnival theme - come with a mask on! - now our windows are ready!!

Saturday, February 12, 2011

photoshoot attempt #1

It helps to have nice photos of your products when you're trying to sell them online.  It helps to have good camera for this purpose, and it also helps to have an appropriate space and a backdrop.  It helps to have a good model, and it also helps to have a good lighting.  It helps to have a make-up artist, too.  Oh, and, it helps NOT to have a 2-year-old who missed her afternoon nap hanging around.

So, we had a good camera, not a great space - the store - with not much of a backdrop, a beautiful model volunteer - my Romany cousin Sabrina, no good lighting, a make-up artist, and the 2-year-old who missed her afternoon nap.  We wanted to shoot the Fox And Time line, featuring some of our jewelry designers' works.

Needless to say, we will definitely shoot these garments again.  Kharin-the-2-year-old demanded to model babySOLAIRE and Kaiju Big Battel toy as she insisted on wearing various stiletto and high-wedge shoes Sabrina brought.
All in all, we had a fun afternoon. 

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Strawberry & Pink Champagne Cupcakes

The end of January is drawing near and it has been almost a full month since the ball dropped, the confetti flew, and the champagne was poured.

Ah, the champagne...

A celebratory drink to ring in the New Year and all the resolutions and promises that it inevitably brings. My own resolution was to embrace the Finnish concept of Sisu and leave nothing unfinished once it has been started. The humor was not lost on me then, when I realized that I was being haunted by the unfinished bottle of pink champagne that I used to toast my new commitment.

Chances are I would never find another opportunity to drink it (until NEXT New Year) so I turned to the InTheKitschen recipe archives. From there I recovered a recipe for fabulous pink champagne and strawberry cupcakes. These cupcakes capture the effervescent mood of pink champagne with a light texture and subtle, fruity tones throughout. The signature strawberry champagne buttercream delivers a satiny finish with just enough sweetness to accentuate the delicate flavors of the cake. This recipe is a great use of your New Year leftovers and perfect for upcoming Valentine's Day celebrations. Whether you're having dinner with your sweetheart or brunch with dear friends, these pink champagne cupcakes will have your loved ones feeling bubbly :)


Pink Champagne Cupcakes
  • 2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour, sifted
  • 1 1/4 cups white sugar
  • 3/4 cup pink champagne
  • 2/3 cup unsalted butter
  • 6 egg whites at room temperature
  • 1 tbsp. reserved strawberry syrup*
  • 3 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. salt
Strawberry & Champagne Buttercream
  • 2/3 cup unsalted butter
  • 3 1/2 cups confectioners sugar
  • 1/2 cup strawberries with syrup*
  • 2 tbsp. pink champagne
*see directions below

*Before you proceed with any other steps you must prepare your strawberries. Once they are thoroughly washed, dice and toss strawberries with a tbsp. of white sugar. Allow the mixture to rest covered for a minimum of 30 minutes in order for osmosis to occur and syrup to be formed. Reserve 1 tbsp. syrup for cupcake batter.

For the Cupcakes
  1. Preheat oven to 350F
  2. Begin by beating butter on medium speed until smooth, then add sugar and strawberry syrup. Continue to beat until pale and fluffy.
  3. Gradually add room temperature egg whites to your creamed butter/sugar and beat until well combined.
  4. While your wet ingredients are busy mixing combine the flour, salt, and baking powder in a separate bowl and sift them well.
  5. By now the egg/butter/sugar should be a smooth, even consistency. With your mixer on low speed add the dry ingredients in small amounts, alternating with the pink champagne, until all ingredients have been incorporated.
  6. Scoop your batter into lined muffin tins (this batch makes about 20) and bake for approx. 17 minutes. Fully baked cupcakes will have a slightly cracked surface and bounce back to the touch.
  7. Allow to cool before frosting.
For the Buttercream
  1. Whip room temperature butter at high speed until pale and fluffy.
  2. Change mixer to lowest speed and add confectioners sugar gradually.
  3. Once all the sugar has been incorporated add the champagne and diced strawberries with remaining syrup while the mixer is still on low speed.
  4. Once ingredients are thoroughly binded together increase mixer speed to highest setting and beat until color and consistency are even (strawberry pieces will continue to break down but will leave lovely bits of red throughout).
  5. Frost and Enjoy! This buttercream is easy piped from a pastry bag or spread with a spatula. As a fun extra flourish I added some large nonpareils that were reminiscent of the bubbles you might find in your glass of champagne.

A toast to good desserts! Check back soon for more delicious posts on Creators' Co-Op!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

You Don't Have To Have Long Hair

 to have fun making hair accessories.  I mean, Gaetano, the main "guide" at the workshop we just had this past Sunday doesn't even have much hair on his head.

Everyone seemed to be having so much fun creating, the whole store was practically glowing.  Several of the attendee mentioned how they were so happy their creations ended up being something they would actually wear. - So, okay, you might want to have some sort of hair to be able to put these pins through. - That made us deeply pleased.

Thank you, everyone.  There will be another one on February 20th.
And, there are several other classes and workshops planned through the end of February.  Check them out at our website 

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Our new windows and intern

So we have an intern!  We didn't plan it.  Sofia walked in a couple of weeks ago and asked to be one.  She's only 16, and we are deeply impressed by the size of her balls along with her talent.  I am sure I wasn't that confident and self-assured when I was 16.
 She is painting our windows right now, outside, in 23 degree weather.  Her brush strokes are strong and confident, we are amazed at her young age.

People walking by are taking photos of her work.  They are really cute!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

having fun with up-cycling: Fox And Time

Gaetano (of Nera and Lume) and I have been working on a new project, Fox And Time lately, and now we have enough creations to have them in Creators' Co-Op.

Fox And Time is a line full of up-cycled vintage clothing and accessories.  Gaetano and I pick out the vintage pieces we like, then chop them up and stitch them back together.  I have always loved shopping vintage clothing, then I would never wear them - there was always something missing, or something I just couldn't get over.  Sitting down and actually making the bit of alterations to our liking is so much fun.  And, we are proud of the results.

This way, we now have some men's garments and ties.  We cut up the vintage Hawaiian shirts and used them as applique on military jackets and men's ties.  In this cold weather, it is nice to dream of Hawaii.  Gaetano and I are also in love with the whole pin-up girl thing.  As a post-modern feminist, I am satisfied with the whole idea.

Of course, we have women's dresses and skirts we have chopped up and re-vamped as well, and they are all making us both deeply happy.  Up-cycling is definitely more fun and less grinding work for me.  I wonder if Gaetano agrees?  We start out with a piece that's already what it is - clothing, bag, tie - so there is a bit less pressure in that sense.  Although, there is another pressure of making sure whatever we do does the vintage piece justice.  If we're changing something about the vintage piece, it will have to be an improvement, not a compromise. 
The skirt here started out too small to be today's size 8, although it was marked as such.  I think this was from the 70's.  So I took it apart, and cut a few strips from another skirt and applied them here. I love the stripe cutting the bias plaids.

these are the ties. Gaetano did them all, and I had to keep reminding him he couldn't keep them all for himself.  Maybe a fun gift for Valentine's Day.

We are cutting and sewing Fox And Time at the store, so people see us through the window and come in, asking to alter their clothes.  We politely point them to the dry cleaner across the way. 


Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Lock and Spoon joins us!

Ms. Emily Langmade of Lock and Spoon just joined Creators' Co-Op.  She is very talented, and her creations are just beautiful.  She incorporates found objects - some of them deeply vintage - into her creations, resulting in unique and somehow nostalgic pieces.

We are delighted to have her with us, especially with her delightful vibes.  She promises to be dropping by the Co-Op store often, so hopefully you will meet her in person soon!

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Happy New Year Hop Hop

Just drew a couple of bunnies on our store window.  It is the year of the rabbit.  Ken walks by and says, "you know, no one would get that unless they're Asian."  Ahahaha.  No matter!

People are starting to come to Creators' Co-Op from other Boroughs.  The first was right before the Christmas, a gentleman who lives in Inwood - my old neighborhood in upper Manhattan - coming in after work in midtown for his holiday shopping.  He walked in with, "this is Creators' Co-Op, right? 26-16 23rd Avenue?"  Very exciting.  He mentioned the little article on Time Out New York.  I guess these things do help.

We're having our New Year Celebration Event this Saturday the 8th all afternoon, with live music, wine, cheese, and hot apple cider.  Figured it will be a nice way to start the year. 

Let's see how we can keep on hopping!  On our right is one of Art And Adventures' "Encouragement" Card.  Stretching does us good.