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Modern Art + Objects


Start to Finish: Painting A Wall Mural

I just finished a mural at Three Chairs Co., a prominent furniture store in downtown Ann Arbor (they have an additional showroom across the street as well). I was excited to do one here because my concept matches the mid-century aesthetic of their pieces with designers like Ray and Charles Eames, George Nelson and Isamu Noguchi. My design of the Modern Rorschach inkblot came easily as I was sketching in Adobe Illustrator and the owner thought it would be perfect for the front window during the Herman Miller winter sale.

After I printed it out, I labeled each color and shape by section and dimension.

Now comes the real work. I measured each section (or color) to scale and translated it to hand-drawn illustrations on paper.

Then I cut each section out and labeled it.

I laid out the area for the "canvas" and blocked it in using Behr primer and paint in one. Great stuff!

Then I could start taping and tracing. 

And cutting in the colors by hand.

And filling them in. Using vibrant colors together is always a gamble. But after double and some triple coats, I think it paid off nicely.


Thank you, Three Chairs Co. for your cooperation and wall space. Special thanks to Genui Forma for sponsoring the materials! And a big thank you to -N- for being a great partner in crime.

If you need a mural in your home or office, give us a call at 734-929-2498 or email




What's she thinking?!?

Is this the untimely end of Y's sanity?! Could she be  plotting some sinister, diabolical scheme? Or is she gifting mankind with a glimpse of the future of art?  Tune in tomorrow for the shocking reveal!



Do It Yourself: Make Your Own Business Card Holder

I must preface this entry by saying that this is not the perfect tutorial. When -N- and I got our square business cards (I can still hear the printer exclaiming, "But that's not a standard size..." Needless to say we went with someone else), figuring out what kind of case to carry them in was a challenge. And then it hit me. I'm a huge proponent of book art. And since we have bookboard and chip board in the art closet, why not make our own. As soon as the lightbulb popped, I executed it immediately with little care of figuring out certain details like - oh, say a...clasp or closure mechanism. But who needs one when you have an original business card holder?


Ruler (preferably cork lined for stability)

X-acto knife

Book board (double ply chipboard works too) - 1 large sheet

Self-healing cutting board

PVA bookbinding glue (PH neutral) - This type of glue is especially malleable and dries quickly. Although you can use standard Elmer's white glue, I don't recommend it. The PH neutrality of this glue also makes it handy to have for other archival and book projects - totally worth the money.

1. Draw out a rough sketch of the holder with all the separate planes labeled with dimensions. Since I came up with the design on the fly, I don't have a full breakdown to give you. But I built a box so I knew I'd need five sides with one open side.

2. Cut out the panes with the X-acto blade going straight down. If you cut at an angle, the edges will be beveled and not match up correctly.

3. Now comes the tricky part. It's ideal to build the box around the top and bottom pieces, say the foundation of the box. None of the side pieces would butt up against the bottom panes, they'd sit on top of them. Make sense? If not, email me. Take a thin layer of the PVA glue and apply to one side of an outer pane. Place it on top of the bottom piece and hold in place for at least 10 seconds like so:

4. Repeat on other side. Let set for five minutes. For the back piece, cut off a few millimeters so it wedges nicely between the two outer pieces. For the top and final piece, you will need to trim millimeters off of two sides so it wedges into the three sides like sliding in a drawer. Once you have the piece fitting snugly, apply glue to the edges and let set overnight.

When I went out to lunch today, I got to use it and it received a few positive comments. The finishing is yet to be determined. I notched out a "U" on one side where I thought an elastic could fit around. I'm also pondering on what finish to give the raw board. I'll most likely paint it but if I find a great paper in the meanwhile, I may consider covering it as well. I'll post update photos when I finish it.

It has a solid, substantial feeling in my hand and I love pulling out a handmade piece that's utilitarian.

Let me know if any of this is unclear or if you have questions. Like I said, it's a very rough tutorial because I just thought of it and just wanted to see if I could do it. And I did.

Good luck.



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As simple as Battleship.

Not many people know that the game Battleship was originally a pad and pencil game published by Milton Bradley Company in 1931. It wasn't until years later that it became such a model of sleek simplicity. A solid red box and a solid blue box. Each open to reveal two aqua tinted, transparent grids. There are red pegs for hits and white ones for misses. Each box comes with five ships. Even the pad and pencil version wasted paper. This updated version was and is flawless for it's design and simple idea.

Martin Klimas fits this mold, as well. I found his work while flipping through a magazine one day. His idea is simple, the execution is not difficult, once established, and the payoff is genius. His work also shows that not all good ideas are complicated.

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Organized Chaos: Space + Tools

This past Friday we attended the ribbon cutting for the University of Michigan School of Art & Design Graduate studios. Located a couple miles from the School, the space is over 30,000 square feet and has a communal center space with arms of studios extending on lower and upper floors.

Each faculty member and graduate student candidate is designated a space for working on their specialty. It was an exciting evening and I loved being able to explore each little world. Some had panels of thread, others had cabinets of objects and others were covered floor to ceiling with colorful collage. Setting up a studio or work space is incredibly important to me and I can't work unless it feels "just right."

We work from home. It's a very rewarding and at times, challenging, feat. For instance, I have an office but -N- works in the main area which has the distractions of TV, NPR, the kitchen and many times, the dog's antics. Foregoing the typical use of a living space, ours is more like a studying, dining, library area where we can sprawl out, look at books and draw.

In my office, I incorporate a lot of pretty things to stare at so it's a mishmosh of professional and personal things.

I'm pretty meticulous about how I keep my tools. 

What does your space look like? Do you work from a home studio or do you have to get away to be productive? Send us some photos if you feel inclined to share. I love seeing how others function. And yes, those are Pixar forever stamps. Go get some.




That Was Then...

...and for many reasons, I feel unfortunately, that the Now in art objects is lacking. I'm not saying that the heavy use of metal and plastics was the best thing for the environment but things were beautiful and utilitarian. There's an air of purpose in mid-century and Modern art and objects; it's no wonder it's wildly popular today.

I see plenty of well-designed products in the market today but they're almost too sparse for me. I want the first go-at-it, the sense of urgency the early industrial designers must have felt. Now everything is pared down. I once heard Jerome Witkin say the contemporary art scene was a "...field full of vacuous art," and I'm afraid he's right. Our senses have leaned too far that direction. Give me a few clunky knobs and over-reaching arcs. I'd take an Arco over a West Elm any day. I feel lucky that we have access to art and design objects of that era that not only woo our senses but are practical to have around the apartment too.

...we had to create them by hand.
Before Adobe Illustrator

I urge you to think, question, create and chat. Have a wonderful weekend, everyone. See you Monday.