Iceland

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It must be March; I’m craving a bit of color after living in a winter white landscape for the last few months. Today’s color palettes are inspired by pictures I took when I was in Iceland last spring.

Colorful houses with pretty window trim and crisp lacey curtains captivated me. Frequently cheerful vases of flowers were perched on windowsills. The houses in every town and village pop with color and help fend off the winter blues.

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Those of you who have been following my color palette inspirations for a while already know about my fascination with rust. I was ecstatic while poking around The Raven’s Nest (a dwelling literally made of old metal)  at seeing so many rusty colored shapes contrasting against other materials. The bright yellow-orange that runs through most of these palettes, seems to be the same color Icelanders paint their lighthouses. Here are a few of my favorites.

P.S. I hope you’re enjoying the longest day of the year. I for one, plan to enjoy every second of daylight today!

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© Poppy Gall 2011

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I don’t know if Icelanders drink more or less tea and coffee than folks from different places or not. But rather than hiding their pretty tea and coffee pots in cupboards,  I noticed many pretty collections on display in kitchens around the island, which in turn inspired these color palettes.

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Visiting the Álafoss factory shop housed in the old knitting mill in Mosfellsbær where Iceland’s woolen industry was launched in 1896 was on my “to visit” list.

The shop is packed with woollen goods knit, woven and felted from world famous Istex “Lopi” wool, the yarn from which Icelandic sweaters are knit. Unique in it’s composition, Icelandic wool is made up of two types of fibers; fine, soft and insulating inner fibers and long and glossy outer fibers which are water and dirt repellent. Sweaters knit from Lopi yarn are lightweight and warm.

In the old days the small waterfall (“foss”) behind the mill powered it’s machinery. A large selection of old photographs and knitting machinery are interspersed throughout the store, which fills the mill’s first floor, reminding one of the building’s heritage.

My visit to the shop was not disappointing – I left with two large bags of Lopi yarn and a wool blanket. This was the first time I had seen the full range of Istex yarns ranging from super lightweight “LéttLopi” to “Plötulopi”, the unspun yarn used to knit Icelandic sweaters. The colors are luscious and I was unable to resist buying a skein of almost every shade! Luckily the skeins compress and I was able to cram them into the empty spaces in my ski bag to avoid paying an excess baggage fee!

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Yarns, sweaters, blankets and crafts fill the whole first floor of the old mill shop in Mosfellsbær

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A delicious spectrum of color!

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One can never have too much yarn!

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Love the company vehicle!

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We discovered a breathtaking black beach on Iceland’s Snæfellsnes peninsula in the western fjords. Polished black pebbles rumbled beneath the pounding surf as they rushed onto the deserted shore.  Bits of brightly hued seaweed were left behind. I loved the contrast of the stark hard stone and the colorful organic seaweed.

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© Poppy Gall 2011

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Avoiding a late April snow squall we ducked into Friða Frænka, a colorful vintage shop on Vestergata in Reykjavik. We spent an enjoyable time poking through what appeared to be the worst of the worst cast-off wedding presents from the 60’s and 70’s – lighting fixtures, modern furniture, glass, plastic toys and kitchenware, mismatched cutlery, biscuit tins, buttons, suitcases, costume jewelry and textiles.

I was fascinated by how deliciously awful it all was, and wondered who in the world would want any of it? Just not my style, but I was drawn to some pretty silver coat tags that were once sewn to the linings of fur coats. And my friend Barbara almost came away with a softball-sized whale’s ear until she realized she’d miscalculated króna to dollars, and decided her eight-year-old son really didn’t need a ninety-dollar souvenir!

If you’re in the neighborhood, it’s worth popping in.

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I’ve barely had time to sift through the 2,000 or so photographs I took (the curse and pleasure of digital cameras) since I returned from a 3 ½ week ski trip to Iceland in April and May.

As I organize and categorize my pictures and experiences, and re-savor the colors and textures of Iceland I’ll be posting them here as part of my “Iceland Journal”. I promise I won’t post even half of the photos I took!

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I wonder if I even remember how to use a typewriter? Notice the Icelandic characters on the keys!

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Last week, while exploring Reykjavik with tourist map in hand, a point of interest called “The Raven’s Nest” piqued my curiosity. The short blurb on the map read,

“I’m like a raven, I collect things,” Icelandic film director Hrafn Gunnlaugsson says of his seaside hidden abode. The house as Laugarnestangi 65 can easily be mistaken for an eclectic museum or an enormous unfinished sculpture. Like so many artists, Gunnlaugsson has a vision for his anomalous haven – a living, breathing display of history, his travels, family, nature, and above all, recyclable materials. It’s simply not enough to observe, only active participants are allowed in this bizarre existence that Gunnlaugsson calls home.

Impossible to resist this description, we found ourselves bumping down a dirt driveway at the outskirts of town. We were greeted by massive sculptures fashioned from discarded metals, stone and paint. Beyond lay Gunnlaugsson’s low-lying recycled home on the water’s edge – a fascinating and colorful hodge-podge of rusty ship parts, satellite dishes, driftwood, concrete and glass.

We approached the house, and were disappointed to discover that no one was home. As we poked around the periphery of the homestead I hoped that the eccentric homeowner, who certainly must have a sense of humor, would pop out and invite us in for a cup of coffee. So many questions to ask the creator of such an abode!

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An all-seeing eye at the end of the driveway made us suspect we’d found the right place

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A Viking warrior greets us at the edge of the property

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Unfortunately no one was home when we stopped by…

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The house is set right on the rocky shoreline – minutes from downtown Reykjavik

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I loved all the rusty sculpture. To see more of my infatuation with rust click here and here

© Poppy Gall 2011

A raven, fashioned from what appears to be an old TV antennae

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After spending three and a half weeks in the land of ice, snow, sagas, volcanoes, hot springs, trolls, sheep, northern lights and endless daylight it’s been a tad difficult to readjust to my day-to-day life. Iceland, surreally shaped by fire and ice, perpetually inspired me with her landscapes, colors and textures. It is truly a place of wonder and I’ll be sharing some of my experiences here.

I spent my first two weeks skiing in the mountains near the Arctic Circle on the Troll Peninsula, and my last week touring around the western fjords with my camera at my fingertips and my eyes and brain on visual overload.

As my traveling companion and I packed our skis in the back of the rental car and leisurely headed back toward Reykjavik, the snow was just beginning to melt from the mountains leaving ribbons of it behind in steep and narrow gullies creating lovely patterns. Waterfalls cascaded thousands of feet from rocky cliffs. After awhile I started seeing Icelandic sweater designs in all the mountains!

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I’m Iceland bound today for three weeks of skiing and poking around the island! I’m so looking forward to long creamy untracked runs to the ocean, being in those beautiful treeless mountains, getting into the daily rhythm of climbing and descending, soaking in geothermal hot springs, packing goat cheese and caviar sandwiches for lunch, enjoying almost 24 hours of uninterrupted daylight, laughing around the dinner table and dreaming about designs for new products. For a peak at what the skiing is like in Iceland check out Bergmenn Mountain Guides.

My first day there I plan to visit the Álafoss yarn mill to stock up on scrumptious colored skeins of their famous Lopi knitting yarn. My knitting needles are packed to start a project or two! I’m also excited to check out the many art galleries in Reykjavik before hopping a flight north to the Troll Penninsula. I may, or may not, be blogging during the next few weeks, but I am sure that I will have lots to share here when I return!

By the time I get back to Vermont in May, I hope that the foot of snow that’s piled around my studio will be melted, and that I can put my skis away and start riding my bicycle and gardening!

Photo: Andrés Kolbeinsson

Photo: Andrés Kolbeinsson - Fashion models at Arbaer Museum, 1961

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I’ve always considered electrical transmission lines – especially the monster ones marching across the landscape – a bit menacing and definite eyesores. Imaginative and humorous new pylon designs prompted by an international design competition could change my opinion.

Brookline, Massachusetts based architects Jin Choi and Thomas Shine of Choi+Shine have re-thought the humble pylon in their entry “The Land of Giants” by transforming them into human-like statues.

The competition was sponsored by the Icelandic power company Landsnet, which owns and runs the electrical transmission system in Iceland where 80% of the electricity is from green sustainable sources, such as geothermal power. The goal was to obtain new ideas in types and appearances for 220kV high-voltage towers and lines that encircle the country.

According to Choi+Shine, “we sought to make an iconic, unforgettable pylon, that created an identity for Iceland and the power company.”

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The pylon figures in Iceland vary in position. As the carried electrical lines ascend a hill, the pylon-figures change posture, imitating a climbing person. Over long spans, the pylon-figure stretches to gain increased height, crouches for increased strength or strains under the weight of the wires.

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The pylon-figures can be placed in pairs, walking in the same direction or opposite directions, glancing at each other as they pass by or kneeling respectively, head bowed at a town.

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Despite the large number of possible forms, each figure is made from the same major assembled parts (torso, fore arm, upper leg, hand etc.) and uses a library of pre-assembled joints between these parts to create the pylon-figures’ appearance. This design allows for many variations in form and height while cost is kept low through identical production, simple assembly and construction.

For Icelandic color inspiration click here and here.

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Last Monday when I posted an entry titled “Color Inspiration – Iceland” I had no idea of the havoc the Icelandic Eyjafjallajökull volcano would play on travelers (some of whom are my friends) across the world.
Fascinated by the contrasts of fire and ice, the landscape of Iceland, satellite images and weather maps, I started googling for images of Eyjafjallajökull.
Once again, drawn to Iceland, I’ve put together some color palettes inspired by my web search. I encourage you to click on the links to see more than I could possibly show here!

Last Monday when I posted an entry titled “Color Inspiration – Iceland” I had no idea of the havoc Iceland’s Eyjafjallajökull volcano would play on travelers (some of whom are my friends) across the world.

Fascinated by the contrasts of fire and ice, the landscape of Iceland, satellite images and weather maps and the power of nature I started googling for images of Eyjafjallajökull.

I’ve put together some color palettes inspired by my web search. I encourage you to click on the links to see more than I could possibly show here!

Below: Steam vents from the March 2010 Eyjafjallajökull eruption

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This image taken by the MODIS (Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer) instrument from aboard the Terra satellite is processed to reveal the ash from differences in brightness temperature of two different spectral channels.

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A dramatic photograph of an Icelandic farm taken in the valley beneath the volcano, has been circulating around the web for the past week or so.

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Satellite image of volcanic dust particles over Iceland and Western Europe. For more images click here.

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Weather patterns over Iceland from the Icelandic Met Office

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The beginning signs of the eruption…

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Seismic activity around Eyjafjallajökull on April 16, 2010.

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Color Palettes inspired by a Reykjavik Vintage Shop

Pantone, the global authority on color has selected PANTONE® 15-5519 Turquoise as the color of the year for 2010. Described as “an inviting, luminous hue, Turquoise evokes thoughts of soothing, tropical waters and a languorous, effective escape from the everyday troubles of the world, while at the same time restoring our sense of well being.” I for one, hope never ever to be placed in a Turquoise hospital room to recover!

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“In many cultures, Turquoise occupies a very special position in the world of color,” explains Leatrice Eiseman, executive director of the Pantone Color Institute®. “It is believed to be a protective talisman, a color of deep compassion and healing, and a color of faith and truth, inspired by water and sky.

I’ve put together some Turquoise color boards inspired by photos I took in a vintage shop that I stumbled across in Reykjavik – for the life of me I can’t remember its name! The amazing collection of colorfully kitschy plastic appliances, housewares and electronics were offset by the turquoise walls.

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With both warm and cool undertones, Turquoise pairs nicely with any other color in the spectrum and complements reds and pinks.

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Turquoise adds a splash of excitement to neutrals and browns.

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Turquoise livens up all other greens, and is especially trend-setting with yellow-greens.

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