My husband Chris is an artist who has been making machined metal sculptures for over a decade, at a rate of about a dozen every year. While we have been together, I have watched his craft and career evolve and grow, and I am exceptionally proud of his accomplishments. Chris has also been very fortunate to find patrons of his work, and so his artwork, which begin as a little spark in his mind, usually make their way out into the world to a permanent home.
Pending the departure of one of Chris' pieces, we're lucky to enjoy the work ourselves in our own home. Although Chris has sold nearly most of his sculptures, we have more than a handful that have become temporary fixtures in our home. Lately, we've been trying to come up with ways to display his work in our home in a way that is truer to our combined aesthetics. Chris' work is technically precise and have clean and glossy surfaces, and are typically displayed against white walls or on white stands in a gallery or museum setting. They would undoubtedly look at home in a sleek, minimalist environment, but that's a little boring, isn't it?
Chris was interested in photographing his work in a more natural environment, and allowed me to style his work to my preferences. I'm going to admit that I had way more fun styling these "shelfies" than I thought I ever could. Chris' sculptures aren't material representations of any particular object found within our world, but for me, they can invoke certain emotional reactions borne out of my perspective. I'll find that when he finishes a piece, each one has its own distinct personality and presence. While styling Chris' sculptures, I placed his work within the context of commonly known objects - plants, books, machines - to express that twinge of my own personal response to his work.
This year, Chris has been experimenting with these striking black dibond drawings of his new pieces. I love how his sculptures pair with these stunning drawings. In these photos, each of the drawings correspond with the main sculpture.
You can see all of Chris' sculptures on his website.
If there is one thing I took and ran with from The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, this is it: "Decorate your closet with your secret delights." Marie Kondo wrote one page on the matter in her book, advising to "transform your closet into your own private space, one that gives you a thrill of pleasure." Who wouldn't want to do this?
And after discarding and donating three quarters of my wardrobe, I was surprised to find that the clothes I loved and decided to keep tended to be brightly colored and patterned. This was a slight revelation to me, as I typically think of myself as a boring dresser (too many black and grey clothes). I took it as a sign, and accordingly, made some minor adjustments.
I have longed to figure out a way of incorporating wallpaper into my home, and was really pleased to find out that Hygge & West came out with a line of removable wallpaper tiles. I ordered one single tile with Lina Rennell's Raindrops pattern and tried to figure out how to make it work in my closet. I ruled out just placing it directly on the wall; my closet hardware would obscure the tile ruin the effect of the pattern. We had an extra IKEA frame sitting around, so I painted the backboard white and placed the wallpaper tile on top. My husband rigged a hook so the frame would sit evenly on the closet hardware. You can still see the hardware, but it's much better than the white cavern it was before.
I love this pattern. It suggests movement, has some gradations in the color, and is relaxing to look at. The white frame and painted backboard highlights the wallpaper tile and allows the pattern to have a more formal presence. Wallpaper = art! And art in the closet? An amazing mood lifter. I start and end my days at my closet, and it's a great place to reset.
Now I spend a lot of weekend mornings hanging out in my closet. Our bedroom is the sunniest and warmest room in the house, which has been a refuge on these wintry and freezing days we have had lately. I am usually perched on the underused bar stool I swiped from the kitchen, listening to podcasts and records while catching up on my favorite blogs. I keep a few books out on my dresser/desktop as a reminder to finish reading them.
Oh yes, and the new Sleater Kinney album is pretty much the best. Beautiful album art and some of the strongest voices in rock and roll today, if not the last two decades.
January 2015 has been kind of a life changing month for me.
That's quite a statement, isn't it? I am taking my cue from Marie Kondo's The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, a book that has taught me so much about the powerful effect that our material objects have on us. This is something that has been on my mind lately, so it was really reassuring on some level to read a book written by someone who is a fanatic about tidying, and who also comes from a place of wanting to help people surpass the very mundane yet significant hurdle of clutter.
The other weekend, I followed the first step of the "Kon-Mari Method," taking out all of my clothes, shoes, accessories, and bags out of my closets and drawers. I spent hours holding each item of clothing in my hands and asking myself that fateful question, "does it spark joy?" And then I ended up with a closet that had about two thirds less clothing in it, all neatly rolled and hung.
Truthfully, I am holding onto some clothes (at least until the weather gets warmer) just in case. They are out of the closet and cluttering up another space in my house -- in purgatory, helping create the psychological distance between me and the clothes I spent a bit of money on.
Onward to the other January lifesavers:
Medicine Mama's Sweet Bee Magic All in One Healing Skin Cream. Quite a mouthful for something that only has six ingredients: organic olive oil, organic beeswax, organic honey, propolis extract, bee pollen, and royal jelly. I use it on my face and it is not overly greasy for my combination skin. I also use it for my chapped hands. My skin definitely feels smoother and hydrated this winter, and dare I say, more youthful. It definitely has a slight resin odor out of the container, but that dissipates fairly quickly. I find myself increasingly sensitive to fragrances in products, so I'm kind of grateful there is nothing added to this blend.
My phone. Well, not really my phone, but what I'm using on my phone has been a game changer for me. I recently came across articles and blog posts on two apps that seemed intriguing to me: Yoga Studio and Headspace.
Last winter, I went to Bikram yoga a lot (thanks to a 90-day unlimited Groupon pass), but struggled with the time commitment of commuting and showering on top of a 90 minute class. And honestly, after the pass expired, I couldn't justify the expense of continuing to go. And then I stopped doing any yoga at all. This winter, I found myself waking up with a sore neck and back pain, and decided to do something about it. I started waking up a little earlier than normal to do some gentle stretching, and then eventually came across Yoga Studio. This has been a game changer for my morning routine. I used to just snooze my alarm clock a million times and make a mad dash to get to work. Now, I have been waking up about 45 minutes earlier than I used to and getting in at least 15 minutes of yoga (in my new bathroom) first thing in the morning before I go about my day. When I come home, I try to do two sets of the 7-minute workout, and sometimes I will end with a short yoga class on the app. I love squeezing in this brief periods of exercise and stretching, without committing a ton of resources. It truly is the most significant yet small habit I have started working on.
I also tried out the free 10-day meditation trial on Headspace. I think I tried to meditate once when I was about fifteen after reading Siddhartha, and haven't tried it since. Headspace is a slick and colorful little app that offers guided meditation, as well as some fun animations that explain meditative concepts. I really liked the sound of Andy Puddicombe's British accent guiding me through 10 minutes of meditation every day. This is another app that offers bite-sized and structured guidance for my mindfulness practice, and I am seriously considering swapping out my Hulu subscription for this one in February.
Also, I have been listening pretty much nonstop to The Lively Show. Jess Lively has interviewed some of my favorite bloggers on creativity, simplicity, and intention, and I really love these conversations.
So yes, I have been feeling more positive and trying to be kinder and more appreciative. I have less negative and self-critical thoughts than I used to. Life is far from perfect, but I feel like I'm actively working on myself, and it's making a difference, at least for now.