Friday, December 31, 2010

New Year's Top Movies

For me January 1st is a day when I like to crawl under a warm blanket and watch the New Year's classics and finish the left overs from the New Year's Eve's party. This would be my Top 3:

200 Cigarettes

The Irony of Fate, or "Enjoy Your Bath"/Ironiya sudjbi ili s lyohkim parom!
This is a Soviet time movie which was and still is shown on the TV every New Year's Day. I love it. I'm just not sure if people who haven't lived in a Soviet Union would be able to understand the whole essence of it, but after all good cinema is a good cinema.

Bridget Jone's Diary

What about you?

Ok, time to get ready. I'm off to the New Year's Eve's party! Happy, happy 2011!

Tuesday, December 28, 2010


Recently I read an article in Latvian weekly magazine IR - a real dream-come-true success story of one Latvian girl named Agnija Tiļļa who started her own watch design studio May28th after moving to Canada. Her products made it to the New York Magazine and  ELLE September 2010 U.S. edition and I think that is a benchmark for yet not widely known, young designer. Each watch is one-of-a-kind and gets a "serie number" - she started the count-down from midnight and now has gotten to 9 AM. For instance this is how a 08:15AM watch looks like :)
So  this is a tribute to yet another talented compatriot of mine. I wish her a great success in the future and a lot of inspiration! And I believe my friend Vika would be very delighted to find out about this story in more details because one of her passions is wrist-watches ;)

RIGA - my beautiful city

I am home for Christmas. And my heart sings! My hometown is beautifully decorated and Christmas spirit is in the air. This video tells a little bit of history (don't mind the advertising part) and totally corresponds to the ambience these days - it is great! :)

Wednesday, December 22, 2010


I've always known that there are so many talented people among my compatriots considering the fact that we are rather small nation and here is another proof - mammalampa. I just LOVE this unique moulding of paper braids which makes one beautiful object of the interior - lamp. Inspiring :)

Monday, December 20, 2010

Decoupage encore

For those who are already dreaming of summer and staying at the beach-house :)

Self-made Christmas presents

Yet another thing which I'm enjoying myself so much lately - making earrings. And as Christmas time is almost here making such presents for your friends (well, mostly for females though) saves you from running and pushing through the shops during the pre-Christmas gift shopping craze and as I already mentioned before - gives this warm and special touch to it :)

Wednesday, December 8, 2010


I went to Spain last week. And before leaving I read the weather forecast for the coming week that the snow will melt by the time when I'll get back and it's gonna be rainy and gloomy for the rest of the week and it really got me upset. On that morning as I was leaving and was waiting for the bus to take me to the airport it started snowing with those big white puffy snowflakes - in fact it was a bunch of snowflakes stuck together. And once again I realised that I am a total snow fan. It is such a unique creation of the nature that I just can't stop admiring it. Every time it snows I just feel like I see it for the first time and happy cause it simply does. And here comes a quintessence of my emotions regarding this white magic, Douglas Coupland has put it down in a very exact way in his book "Generation X":
"...I'll always remember the first time I saw snow. I was twelve and it was just after the first and biggest divorce. I was in New York visiting my mother and was standing beside a traffic island in the middle of Park Avenue. I'd never been out of L.A. before. I was entranced by the big city. I was looking up at the Pan Am Building and contemplating the essential problem of Manhattan... But right then my brother Allan yanked me at my sleeve because the walk signal light was green. And when I turned my head to walk across, my face went bang, right into my first snowflake ever. It melted in my eye. I didn't even know what it was at first, but then I saw millions of flakes - all white and smelling like ozone, floating downward like the shed skins of angels. Even Allan stopped. Traffic was honking at us, but the time stood still. And so, yes - if I take one memory of earth away with me, that moment will be the one. To this day I consider my right eye charmed."
I got sick in Spain, this is the reason why I am staying in my room staring through the window at the snowstorm outside and not wearing my warmest clothes and going for a walk. The weathermen turned out to be wrong as usual :) It is simply beautiful - this silent white dance under the street lamps. The blanket which covers the ugly parts. The perfect symmetry. The wistful vanishing on my warm palm.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Decoupage - hanger

And this is what decoupage can do to a simple wooden hanger. Just a piece of napkin produced in Switzerland, acryl colour and glue, and it will give a nice touch to the interior of your home. You can hang a nice piece of clothing on it which you wouldn't mind keeping outside the wardrobe
or a surprisingly matching bag bought in a designer's shop in Madrid few years ago :)

Friday, October 29, 2010

Decoupage - tray

This was another present for another friend.
Materials used:
wooden tray pattern;
Akademie acryl color (olive);
FolkArt Crackle Medium;
Akademie acryl color (sand);
napkin with dill (or whatever spice it may be :)) image;
Mod Podge Matte (waterbase sealer, glue & finish)
(I forgot to mention yesterday that) in the end you have to apply a varnish coating as acrylic colours dissolve in the water and you might want to clean the tray with a wet rag every once in a while otherwise it might end up with sweeping away all the beauty.

Here you can see in close-up what crackle medium does - I just love this effect :)
So you apply the base colour, then crackle medium and then the top colour, and the crackle medium cracks the top coating revealing the colour of the base.

This is like a promo pic: FOR LONELY, COLD WINTER EVENINGS (cause Latvians rather drink tea in the evenings than in the afternoons :))
But my friend went to "Villeroy & Boch" after receiving this present and got herself a beautiful and amazingly matching set of tea cups for two changing it to TO MAKE THE COLD WINTER EVENINGS NICE AND COSY! Voilà! :)

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Some decoupage...

All of these things were made as presents for my friends. And this is something I've always appreciated by others and loved doing myself especially when realising that my friends earn enough to afford buying themselves whatever they need and want so that's when one has to start being original. Besides it makes it so much more special than an item bought in the shop.

This one I called a WISH BOX and it was given to a friend who is very much fond of India and it's culture.
Materials used:
wooden box pattern;
Akademie acryl color (sand);
FolkArt Crackle Medium;
Rico Design Prato Acrylic (cadmium deep red);
Amsterdam Acrylic Standard Series (burned soil No 409);
napkin with Buddha image;
Mod Podge Matte (waterbase sealer, glue & finish).
However this was my first attempt to decoupage... But sure not the last. Will be continued... Time to go to bed now :)


As to me it all started after buying a beautiful pair of earrings in one fair in Riga. Got the address of the shop where they had more of the good stuff and after inquiring about the technique these earrings were made in I heard the word DECOUPAGE which was new to me (shame on me having a BA in Arts).
With the reference to National Guild of Decoupeurs (which also claims to represent decoupage artists worldwide - I am not in it yet :)), the history of this technique goes back to 12th century. It was an art of Chinese peasants who were creating paper cutouts in vivid colors to decorate windows, lanterns, gift boxes and other objects. This Chinese practice and expertise with scissors is thought to have come from Eastern Siberia, where cutout felt figures and designs were decorating objects in the tombs of Siberian nomads. The tombs date back to before Christ.
German and Polish artisans have also been using cut paper for decoration over several centuries. Polish women and children in particular, developed enormous skill with folded colored papers which they cut freehand into geometric shapes and stylized birds, animals and flowers.
However, it is the late 17th century lacquer work from the Far East, mostly in the form of furniture, which we tend to associate with today’s decoupage. Oriental lacquered objects became fashionable in Europe and in no time demand exceeded supply. As a result, Venetian cabinet-makers and lacquerers (called depentore) began to produce fake lacquer work to keep up with the demand. This work was known as lacca contrafatta-counterfeit lacquer.
Apprentices were employed by the artisans to hand-color the prints and engravings of leading artists. These were then cut out, pasted to the surface to be decorated and covered with many layers of lacquer to produce furniture and objects d’art that closely resembled the unique and popular work being brought by traders from China and Japan.
Parallel to this development, the wealthy classes were using master painters to paint their furniture and decorate their walls and ceilings. However, in time, because of excessive demand and the fact that many people could not afford the works of the masters, an alternative form of decoration developed. Drawings from the artists of the day were cut out, glued down and covered with lacquer to resemble original paintings. From this derivation came the alternative term l’arte del povero-poor man’s arts.
During the 18th and 19th centuries this art form flourished throughout Europe. It even infiltrated the court of Louis XV. Ladies with an artistic bent snipped away at pictures and pasted them onto hatboxes, wig stands, fire screens and toiletry objects, keeping themselves amused for hours. The works of Boucher, Watteau, Fragonard, Redoute, Pillement and many other distinguished artists came to this sticky end. Many magnificent examples of fine cutting, coloring and design can still be found today on bureaus, chiffoniers, armoires and similar pieces of furniture.
Mention must be made of a certain Mrs. Mary Delaney who lived in England from 1700 to 1788. This charming, witty and talented woman was a confidante of King George III and Queen Charlotte and a greatly loved member of their court. Her close friends included William Hogarth, Jonathan Swift and Sir Joseph Banks. Amazingly, at the age of 71, Mary started producing the most exquisite and botanically accurate reproductions of plants and flowers by cutting up fine tissue paper which she had first hand-colored. She produced her "paper mosaics", as she called them, until the age of 88 when she succumbed to failing eyesight. These superb paper cutouts can be seen in the British Museum today.
Like Mrs. Delaney, many gentlewomen in 18th century England became very adept with scissors and were engrossed with the art of decorating with cutout images under lacquer. This and the general skill of lacquering were known in England as Japanning. In 1760 a certain London printer, Robert Sayer, produced a much sought-after book called The Ladies Amusement or The Art of Japanning Made Easy. The book contained 1500 illustrations for artist craftsmen, but it was particularly popular with leisured ladies who loved to color, cut and paste the charming drawings. It also contained five pages of instructions on how to color, glue down, varnish and polish the cutouts. These instructions are preceded by "directions for composition" in which the reader is advised about the combination of subjects. "If the scene is European in the body of your design," he directs to put in "no exotic or preposterous object…..We have seen a butterfly supporting an elephant and things equally absurd."
In 19th century England, during the Victorian era, handcoloring and intricate cutting out gave way to the more sentimental, florid collage-style of this art form. This coincided with the introduction of Valentine cards, decorative and embossed papers and braids to embellish surfaces such as screens, lamp bases, linen boxes and much more. Many a Victorian nanny taught her young charges to beautify objects by applying decorative paper pieces to them. While these decoupage pieces lacked subtlety and skill, they made up for it with a certain bold and sentimental charm. 
Today, decoupage is having a stimulating and virile revival throughout the world with active guilds in America, South Africa, Australia, England and  Japan. Decoupage is a 20th century word which comes from the French word decouper meaning to cut out. Paper cutouts are reassembled and designed and then glued to a painted or gilded surface. The most traditional technique includes applying 30-40 layers of varnish which are sanded to a beautiful smooth sheen. However, cutouts may also be applied under glass or alternatively raised to give a three-dimensional appearance.
Over the centuries it boasts many famous practitioners including Marie Antoinette, Madame de Pompadour, Lord Byron, Beau Brummel and more recently, Matisse and Picasso. 

Friday, October 1, 2010

Harri Peccinotti

This evening I attended a lecture of photographer Harri Peccinotti in MUDAM (modern art museum in Luxembourg) oganized by Design Friends association. Somehow the emphasis has been put on his work for Pirelli calendar but there is so much more about him. Apart from being a very charismatic and warm personality at his 75, he is also appearing to be a very humble and witty English gentlemen who just happens to have a very impressive biography and list of creative achievements.

Harri Peccinotti is a photographer and graphic designer. Born in London in 1935, he started his career as a commercial artist designing record covers and working in advertising before gaining international recognition as the founding art director of British women's magazine Nova in the 1960s. His work as art director in Nova is widely considered as influential for its graphic design as well as photography.

As art director, his distinct graphic design work was also deployed for other magazines such as Flair, Vanity Fair, Rolling Stones and Vogue both before and after Nova. In addition, he designed French newspaper Le Matin de Paris. From the mid 60s he focused more and more on photography and developed a graphic, yet very sensual style, which featured on the pages of fashion magazines as well as in the 1968 and 1969 editions of the renowned Pirelli calendar. A good example of his style during the 1970s are his book covers for Penguin, including a series of Iris Murdoch novels which features unusually cropped, striking pictures of women models with make up in vivid colours.

From 1972 to 1985 he produced a series of photography books on ethnic communities in countries as diverse as Nigeria, Cameroon, Singapore, Malaysia, Italy and Japan among others. 

A book about the full spectrum of his work was put together by Giorgio de Mitri for publisher Damiani in 2008. Its title is simple and graphic, H.P. His work typically features close up shots of the female form, the face in particular and is very sensual. The images are suggestive, even making a fetish of lips and smoking.

At the age of 75 Mr Peccinotti now lives in Paris, He continues to shoot fashion and advertisements and is a photography consultant for French weekly news magazine Le Nouvel Observateur and continues to be an influential figure in art and fashion photography.
(Text quoted from the brochure by Design Friends association).