handmade

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Easter is one my favorite holidays with it’s promise of re-birth. I swooned when I saw this hen-on-a-basket on the step of an antique shop in Reykjavik – so sweet! It would make a perfect Easter table decoration filled with jelly beans.

My Easter dinner table is not complete without clusters of hand painted Rômanian Easter eggs as the centerpiece. I was fortunate to meet the artisan who made them in her home and to watch her decorate them with amazing skill. Click here to see how they are made along with my photos.

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When one imagines carved saddles, images of scroll and acanthus leaf patterns and shiny hardware atop Palominos come to mind. Craftswoman Kara Ginther has envisioned an entirely different kind of saddle. She expresses her design through intricately hand carved Brooks leather bicycle saddles. What a brilliant idea!

According to Ginther’s website her techniques for carving leather seats are quite straight forward. She only uses world renowned Brooks saddles. First she traces her design by hand and then embosses it with an awl into the surface of the saddle. She then carves away super thin slices of the outer layer to achieve a light and dark contrast. Some of her designs are hand colored. The carving doesn’t hamper the integrity of the saddle – it only enhances it.

She welcomes custom designs and her prices depend on the size,  complexity and content of the design.  Text, for example, is much more difficult that an organic pattern and is more expensive. Custom saddles range in price from $99 to $400 – that’s after you provide the saddle. When you’re splurging on a handmade custom titanium and carbon bike, what’s another couple hundred bucks for a really special saddle? Tally-ho!

 

If you’re not into cycling, she also custom carves Dansko clogs! Visit her etsy store here.

For more 2-wheeled inspiration click here 

 

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Looking for the perfect gift for the skier in your life? Look no more. Vermont fine artist and passionate skier Tracy Dunphy recycles vintage wooden skis into works of art. She removes ancient pine tar, then sands and stains the wood to its original perfection. Her steady hand then applies a painted garland of colorful folk art flowers inspired by alpine cultures. As a finishing touch, the skis receive a coat of hand rubbed wax, adding depth and warmth.

“Skiing is such an important part of my life, it’s natural for me to use skis as a canvas where I can explore illustrative imagery associated with skiing history and mountain environments,” says Tracy.

Tracy just finished working on these beautiful circa 1970’s 210 cm. cross country skis and dropped by my studio to show them to me. I love the way she remounted the original Rottefella 3-pin bindings. They add a touch of authenticity.

Wouldn’t skis like these make a sweet wedding gift if customized with his and her names? Or be a perfect decorating accent for a chalet or ski town restaurant? Tracy will restore your own wooden skis or select from her stock. Allow plenty of time for custom orders because it’s super time consuming to paint all those delicate flowers.

Admiring her fine brushwork, I find her asking price of $600 for this pair worth every penny. For more information about these skis email Tracy  at dunpher@gmail.com.

 

 

 

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There’s something wonderful about being given a gift that is imaginatively and personally wrapped. The excitement of discovering what lies within a package sheathed in unusual paper with crisply folded corners, a pretty bow and card is a pleasure.

I recently received a small present lovingly wrapped in handmade paper from Nepal and tied with a simple brown cord. My friend made the card to match. I was delighted by the colors and textures of the wrapping and am saving the bits and pieces for some to-be-decided future project. Her creative wrapping enhanced my experience of opening the package, and has gone on to inspire one of my color palettes!

Wrapping Paper ©Poppy Gall 2011

For more color inspiration click here.

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Recently I’ve been thinking about buying new cycling shoes. My internet scouring led me to custom made D2 Shoes. I’m completely smitten with the idea of not only having shoes that are made to order for my duck-shaped and bunioned feet, but being able to select the materials and color placement as well!

D2_Side

D2 Frt

I love the sleek design and the wonderful juxtaposition of textures and colors in this shoe; wingtip shoe meet vintage Vans. The gold is a bit over the top for me personally – I might select light colored natural leather instead. The D2 website has a photo gallery of beautiful handmade shoes and extensive choices of materials to mix and match.

Looking down at snappily shod, pain-free spinning feet in custom D2 shoes would make me smile.

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Isabelle de Borchgrave’s costumes are truly ‘pulp fashion’ – amazingly detailed garments that are painted, crinkled, crushed, folded and molded from paper!

Drawing inspiration from textiles and costume, the Belgian artist has created works based on the Renaissance finery of the Medici family and gowns worn by Elizabeth I and Marie-Antoinette to the creations of the grand couturiers Frederick Worth, Paul Poiret, Christian Dior, and Coco Chanel.

I find her work awe-inspiring and urge you to visit her website to view her vast portfolio. Better yet, go see Pulp Fashion: The Art of Isabelle de Borchgrave organized by the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco on display through June 5, 2011.

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This Christmas my mom delighted me by giving me a lampshade made up of vintage postcards of Bromley, Stratton and the now defunct Snow Valley ski areas; the areas I skied as a kid growing up in southern Vermont. While I can’t say that I remember the areas as they are in the postcards from the 50’s and earlier, the lifts and lodges resemble those of my childhood and bring back sweet memories.

The creator of my handmade treasure is my friend Judy Lake a.k.a. “The Lampshade Lady”. If you are ever in Pawlet, Vermont stop by her shop for a visual treat. It will make you re-think your entire home lighting strategy. It’s filled with delicious fabric (new and vintage) covered lampshades, embellished with luscious trims, in a dizzying array of color combinations and assembled in wonderful shapes and sizes. Most are one of a kind. Visit her on-line shop to view her varied collection – including her vintage postcard shades.

Thanks Mom (& Judy) for brightening my life!

Lake's Lampshades 1

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Lake's Lampshade 3

For more vintage postcards from my collection click here.

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I’m already dreaming about skiing and with any luck there will only be about 50 or so more days until I’ll be back on snow. In anticipation, I’m going to start to blogging again about winter inspirations right now! And I’m gonna begin with a Bang! with skis hand-made by Brianna Morse of Aspen, Colorado. They made my heart leap with joy and envy when I saw them!

Brianna'sSkis

Last year when Brianna was a senior at Aspen High School (she’s now a freshman at Middlebury College) she combined her appreciation of folk art, skills as a woodworker and her love for skiing into a one-of-a-kind pair of skis, as part of an experiential education program. How cool is that!?

Here she explains the process of making her skis:

“Each student had to make their skis from scratch. My skis are a mix of pine and maple and 165 centimeters. I cut the strips of wood, glued them together, and shaped the skis so that the tips would be thinner than the center. I cut strips of fiberglass to go on either side of the wood and P-tex (the stuff on the bottoms of all skis) in the shape of the ski, and then fit the metal edges around the P-tex. I chose a maple veneer for the top sheet, because I wanted the natural wood to show and to give the skis a more authentic feel.“

“Epoxy was used to glue the skis together and then they were put in an air press. After the skis were out of the press I had to cut them, shaping them like the P-tex bottoms, then sand them and give them a final coat of epoxy. I had to do all of these steps by myself.”

“Our teachers had the students design the graphics with computers, but I decided I wanted to try something new. I have a lot of folk art that my Danish grandmother gave me and I like the look of the simple elegance of the folk art style. Coming from the mountains, I decided I wanted to try to bring a real unique mountain feel to my skis. I wanted to make them like something that you would find in the border of a Jan Brett book.“

Tips

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“My grandmother’s sister married a German man and one of her daughters learned how to paint folk art. She happened to be visiting us over spring break and was more than happy to teach me the folk art painting technique called baurnmalerei, the peasant painting that originated in Bavaria. It was a little bit of a challenge mastering the strokes and the flowers, but once I decided on a pattern and got painting, it was extremely rewarding to see how my skis were going to turn out.”

“I decided to make telemark skis instead of alpine touring skis because I felt that telemark bindings would look better and more authentic with the paint. It may have been a rash decision as I had never telemarked before in my life and homemade skis may not have been the best way to learn, but I love an adventure.”

“I’m an International Baccalaureate Art student and I exhibited my skis in the IB Student Art show in Aspen and everyone loved them. It was funny though because there were be those who appreciated the painting, and then there were those who came over to flex the skis and inspect my craftsmanship. Either way though my skis got a thumbs up which was awesome!”

Tails

Photos: Pennie Rand

To see more Winter Inspirations click here

To become an interactive part of Poppy Gall Design Studio on facebook click here.

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One of the things that I did not do – but would very much like not to miss – during my time off from blogging was to see Bespoke: The Handbuilt Bicycle at the Museum of Arts and Design in New York City.
The exhibition runs through August 15th and features the designs of six internationally renowned bicycle builders who have authored some of the most revolutionary developments in their craft. Bespoke illuminates the many dimensions of a vocation that sits squarely at the intersection of art and design.
Through their manipulation of steel, aluminum and titanium, these artisans produce racing bicycles for champion athletes, mountain and cyclocross bicycles for negotiating vertiginous terrain, urban bicycles for stylishly transporting commuters, and elegantly stripped down randonneur bicycles for epic journeys.
Over the past decade, renewed interest in craft, coupled with a rising social movement favoring the durable over the disposable and supporting cycling’s physical and environmental benefits, has contributed to a revival of handbuilt bicycles and fostered a new generation of artisans and clientele.
Showcasing 21 hand-built bicycles, Bespoke bike builders include 
Mike Flanigan, Alternative Needs Transportation (A.N.T.), Holliston, MA.
 Jeff Jones, Jeff Jones Custom Bicycles, Medford, OR, 
Dario Pegoretti, Pegoretti Cicli, Caldonazzo, Italy, 
Richard Sachs, Richard Sachs Cycles, Warwick, MA, 
Peter Weigle, JP Weigle Cycles, Lyme, CT, 
Sacha White, Vanilla Bicycles, Portland, OR

One of the things that I did not do – but would very much like not to miss – during my time off from blogging was to see Bespoke: The Handbuilt Bicycle at the Museum of Arts and Design in New York City.

I’ve always had a keen appreciation for handbuilt frames and have been known to drool over delicately hand cut lugs. I once took a jewelry making course and became even more enamored of the framebuilders craft after learning how precise and skilled one needs to be when working with metal and fire. For me, the aesthetic of a handbuilt frame is akin to eating slow grown food or wearing a hand knit sweater – a human hand and heart has played a major part in its creation.

photo: Glen Jackson Taylor

photo: Glen Jackson Taylor

The exhibition runs through August 15th and features the designs of six internationally renowned bicycle builders who have authored some of the most revolutionary developments in their craft. Bespoke illuminates the many dimensions of a vocation that sits squarely at the intersection of art and design.

Through their manipulation of steel, aluminum and titanium, these artisans produce racing bicycles for champion athletes, mountain and cyclocross bicycles for negotiating vertiginous terrain, urban bicycles for stylishly transporting commuters, and elegantly stripped down randonneur bicycles for epic journeys.

Over the past decade, renewed interest in craft, coupled with a rising social movement favoring the durable over the disposable and supporting cycling’s physical and environmental benefits, has contributed to a revival of handbuilt bicycles and fostered a new generation of artisans and clientele.

Showcasing 21 hand-built bicycles, Bespoke bike builders include 
Mike Flanigan, Alternative Needs Transportation (A.N.T.), Holliston, MA.
 Jeff Jones, Jeff Jones Custom Bicycles, Medford, OR, 
Dario Pegoretti, Pegoretti Cicli, Caldonazzo, Italy, 
Richard Sachs, Richard Sachs Cycles, Warwick, MA, 
Peter Weigle, JP Weigle Cycles, Lyme, CT, 
Sacha White, Vanilla Bicycles, Portland, OR

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Fabian Cancellara of Switzerland, riding for Saxo Bank, won the prestigious 259 km Paris-Roubaix one-day classic bicycle race in France on April 11, 2010, capturing the event for a second time.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paris–Roubaix
Cancellara’s victory was due in part because he didn’t flat on a course notorious for it’s hellish road surface known to destroy tires. This was due to his choice to ride on hand-made tires.
Many people these days aren’t aware that up until the not-so-distant past, performance bicycle tires were made of latex-coated cotton or silk and called “sew-ups”.
I have fond memories of riding on and repairing sew-ups. But my best memory is the ease and speed in which I could change a sew-up by the side of the road. I switched to clinchers a few years ago after it became harder to find good sew-ups at affordable prices.
Between my appreciation for textiles, all things handcrafted and bicycle racing I was interested to learn about the French tire maker FMB that makes the world’s finest bicycle tires – by hand.
http://www.fm-boyaux.fr
FMB stands for Francois Marie Boyaux. Loosely translated Boyaux means tubular – for tubular (sew-up) tires. A one-man operation, Francois Marie’s the renaissance craftsman behind these ultra-dependable tires.
Only limited quantities are made so the best teams in the peloton including Saxo Bank, Quick Step and Team Sky order their allocation of FMB’s months in advance.
FMB makes the fabric for each tire casing using silk or long fiber Egyptian cotton depending on the type of tire being produced. The chosen fabric is wound onto a drum at a 45-degree angle and then coated with liquid latex and left to dry. Three layers of latex-coated bias-cut fabric are used for each tire.
A stickler for quality, FMB also builds their own latex inner tubes ensuring that their tires meet the highest standards. Once the casings and inner tubes are finished, the tubes are inserted into the casings and the casings are hand stitched closed. Rim tape is glued over the stitching. The tread is then applied.
If you appreciate and respect that handmade means just that, coupled with the fact that FMB’s can withstand grueling one day classics like Paris-Roubaix and the Tour of Flanders without flatting you’ll understand the $165 price tag for each tire. It’s a small price to pay for confidence in your equipment and to go down in history winning Paris-Roubaix.
http://www.competitivecyclist.com/road-bikes/product-components/2010-fmb-paris-roubaix-25-tubular-tire-7427.2709.0.html

Fabian Cancellara of Switzerland, riding for Saxo Bank, won the prestigious 259 km Paris-Roubaix one-day classic bicycle race in France on April 11, 2010, capturing the event for a second time.

Cancellara’s victory was due in part because he didn’t flat on a course notorious for it’s hellish road surface known to destroy tires. This could be because he chose to ride on hand-made tires.

cancellara-in-arenberg

Many people these days aren’t aware that up until the not-so-distant past, performance bicycle tires were made of latex-coated cotton or silk and called “sew-ups”.

I have fond memories of riding on, and repairing, sew-ups. But my best memory is the ease and speed in which I could change a sew-up by the side of the road. After flatting, I could change a tire and be back in the saddle within a few minutes. I switched to clinchers a few years ago after it became harder to find decent sew-ups at affordable prices.

Between my appreciation for textiles, all things handcrafted, and bicycle racing I was interested to learn about the French tire maker FMB that makes the world’s finest bicycle tires – by hand.

FMB Tires

FMB stands for Francois Marie Boyaux. Loosely translated Boyaux means “tubular” – for tubular tires. (“sew-ups”). A one-man operation, Francois Marie’s the renaissance craftsman behind these ultra-dependable tires.

Only limited quantities are made, so the best teams in the peloton including Saxo Bank, Quick Step and Team Sky order their allocation of FMB’s months in advance.

FMB makes the fabric for each tire casing using silk or long fiber Egyptian cotton depending on the type of tire being produced. The chosen fabric is wound onto a drum at a 45-degree angle and then coated with liquid latex and left to dry. Three layers of latex-coated bias-cut fabric are used for each tire.

A stickler for quality, FMB also builds their own latex inner tubes ensuring that their tires meet the highest standards. Once the casings and inner tubes are finished, the tubes are inserted into the casings and then the casings are hand stitched closed. Rim tape is glued over the stitching. The tread is then applied.

If you appreciate and respect that handmade means just that, coupled with the fact that FMB’s can withstand grueling one day classics like Paris-Roubaix and the Tour of Flanders without flatting you’ll understand the $165 price tag for each tire. It’s a small price to pay for confidence in your equipment and to go down in history winning Paris-Roubaix.

To see more posts on my blog about bicycles click here.

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The North American Handmade Bicycle Show is being held in Richmond, Virginia February 26-28. I checked out some of the exhibitor websites to see what’s in store.

I suspect being at this show is like being a kid in a candy store – so many sweet and desirable bikes and accessories to ooooh and aahhh over! Here are a few that caught my eye!

Jerk-09

Long time cycling pal and veteran frame builder Richard Sachs creates amazing bikes. Who can deny the beauty and craftsmanship of this head badge?

GroovyCycleworks

I’m a sucker for polka dots; I swooned over this paint job from Groovy Cycleworks!

GiddyUpJersey

Or how about this fabulous polka dot “Giddy Up” jeresey from Dude Girl!? Problem is, which color? They aren’t showing – but should be! :-)

Bamboosero

Bamboosero is a group of independent bamboo frame builders throughout the developing world.  People from Ghana, Zambia, Uganda, The Philippines, and other countries were taught by Craig Calfee on his techniques for joining specially treated bamboo with epoxy soaked wraps of natural fiber.

Cirque_du_Soleil

This stealth trials frame was designed by Tekonics Design Group for Cirque du Soleil rider Lance Trappe.

VanillaCommuter

This is a super cool commuter bike from Vanilla Bicycles in Portland, OR. I love the classic green paint job, the leather saddle and the red bell.

sportivo_MED

At $209.00 these handcrafted leather Italian cycling shoes from Dromarti seem like a bargain. I’m not so sure about the brown color…

velocolour2

VéloColour is a custom bicycle painting shop in Toronto that specializes in contemporary bicycle refinishing. These flowers add a feminine touch without being too “girly”.

CEDhub

These hubs are fabricated by CED – what an amazing melding of metal and wood.

Speedvagen boots

These are possibly the coolest rubber boots I’ve ever seen! From Vanilla Bicycles.

CCPpillows

Cyclo-chic pillows from C.C.P. – they also have hats made up in this print!

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I’m intrigued by all things ski – new or vintage. So when I discovered Grown Skis, a new-ish brand making hand-made skis in an eco-friendly way I was immediately interested. And of course, with my love of vintage looks I was drawn to the simple beauty of the warm cherry topsheets.

Mind you, I have not tried the skis or even seen them in real life, I just like the aesthetic of the design, manufacture and messaging.

Grown Ski

Grown’s eco-entrepreneurial mission is to make high performance skis in an environmentally responsible manner using sustainable materials.

If you’re going to ISPO next week check them out in the Eco Village, a showplace for products and companies in the sports arena who are considered pioneers of eco-friendly manufacturing methods.

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I just received the most beautiful and unusual gift from a friend! Upon first seeing and holding the graceful poppy, it appears to be an amazing piece of carved stone; it’s smooth contours and weight satisfying and tactile in your hand.  On closer inspection it’s also a writing utensil and not made of stone at all!

Sculptor Agelio Batle meticulously creates graphite objects using a unique process of his invention. He combines carbonaceous graphite with smudge resistant compounds under intense pressure and then fuses the mass into his creations.

All surfaces of this 6” long graphite poppy can draw and the graphite resists smudging on my hands!  A poppy for Poppy that can create, and is lovely on my desk, is an amazing and appropriate gift – thank you!

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I’m a paper hoarder. My desk is stuffed full of bits and pieces of gift-wrap and handmade paper, pretty stationery, 5 cent stamps, vintage postcards and old photographs. Recently while rifling through it for inspiration I came across a packet of vintage Christmas gift labels hiding in a bundle of handwritten notes. I remembered my delight in finding them in an antique shop decades ago. I’ve been saving them all these years for just the perfect “something”. I gently pulled the labels out of their fragile yellowed wax paper envelope and decided to make them into tree ornaments.

This is what I used to make my ornaments

Ornament kit

a. 2 ½” birch bark rounds (harvest only “found” birch bark, don’t peel live trees)

b. Vintage holiday labels

c. 10” lengths of recycled gift ribbon

d. Glitter

e. Sponge brush found at hardware stores

f. Sharpie fine point marker pen

g. Hole punch

h. Scissors

i. Modge Podge water base sealer and glue available at craft stores

j. Elmer’s glue (to apply glitter – not shown in photo)Girl

Santa

Scene

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