May 23, 2008

Not-so famous sights

Yesterday we went to Santa Croce church, which is where I saw this oddly-detached angel.

We looked at all the famous frescoes and strolled through the cloister before visiting the school of leather working, and finally - the chapel I had been looking forward to seeing, the Pazzi chapel.
The chapel was designed by a chap called Brunelleschi for the Pazzi family, who never used it because they were banished from the city for the remarkable attempt to assassinate the Medicis (Giovanni and Lorenzo), which killed Giovanni but resulted in the expulsion of the whole Pazzi family.

We tried to be decorous, but we had the whole place to ourselves....

May 22, 2008

The Duke's delights, patterns part 1

Everywhere I go, I'm seeing patterns. (And good cafes, and tourists, and nice young men who want to sell me umbrellas...)

I thought I'd share a few: there will be some more later.

First, this stone scallop pattern in the small town of Urbania (not to be confused with Urbino, just down the road). Urbania was the site of the hunting box (read, small palace), of the Dukes of Urbino, circa 1500s. When we got there, it was girating with excitement at the prospect of the Giro d'Italia (Italy's Tour de France) passing through in two days' time. We got the sense nothing quite this exciting had happened for a long time....

A short rain shower cleared the square and I was able to turn around into a quiet corner to snap this photo: wouldn't that make a great quilting pattern or a basis for an art quilt design?

Here's another thing: the battlements of one of the ducal palaces: scallops and windows and slats and lovely lines for composition.

Then, we did finally make it to Urbino itself, and the main Palazzo Ducale, where we spotted this wonderful marble carved border around the enormous doors. I think this is my favourite pattern of the three..... embroidery, anyone?

Now we're off to see the museum of the works of the cathedral in Florence, and some coffee, and maybe if we are strong, climbing that whopping great dome (from the inside).

Need I mention, it's raining?

Siamo in Italia

I've been away - or, I should say, I'm still away, as I write this from a rooftop apartment high up in the eaves of Florence. Bong go the bells, and the fountain splashes. Or should that be, the fountain 'plasheth'? It all feel unreal.

A week in Italy, and where do I start? I have been soaking, nay, rolling, nay, wallowing in the art. Poor J. He was heard to tell the man on the desk here in Florence tonight when we checked in that he had had enough art, only to find out that the check-in man is a student of art history and off the talk goes again.

Here's a picture or two instead of my several thousand words:

May 7, 2008

Fun stuff on the scanner

This weekend I went into Melbourne's Chinatown with a couple of friends for the meal they call Yum Cha (I'm sure they call it Dim Sum in Canada?). Anyway, lots of trolleys, big tables, much tea and dumplings - you get the picture.

While we waited for a table at the palace of Yum Cha delights, I popped across the street to the Chinese stationery shop - a cave of wonders for a paper junkie like me! Stickers, erasers, Snoopy everything, and all manner of interesting kitsch. I nearly over-heated.

May your dumplings be filled with equally delightful finds!

First, a notebook. The purple foiling on the front has not come out so well, but it says "Write on your heart that every day is the best day of the year". OK, I'm up for that.

And the it's got little dog creatures holding balloons, but I thought the balloons said "Boo!" until I looked closer....

And finally, these stickers, my favourite of which says; "You are my forever baby. Do you know?"

Do you know indeed!

Now all I need to do is to find out what the Chinese characters say...

Also on the scanner this morning is an amazing Russian Folk Tales book I picked up some months ago at a secondhand bookshop in a country town up in the Goldfields.

It's got a lovely cut-paper style to the paintings, which I think are watercolour and or gouache.

The colours are bright and saturated, and I love its graphic appeal:

May 5, 2008

Textiles and technology

I'm always astounded at the variety and wonderful creativity of people who make things. All sorts of things, from typography to t-shirts, robot puppets and rubber boots, there's so much interesting design to see on the web.

Today I'm tickled pleased by the blog We Made This, put together by the good folks at a studio in London. I haven't looked for a few months, so I enjoyed a nice long wander reeling back through design goodies and print delights, from Stephen Fry to Semapedia linksplats to Pirate Supplies. (Arr! Shiver me timbers, it's all about writing... innit great?)

Check this out:

The Space Invader scarf from has a QR code knitted into it. What's a QR code? I've never seen these before, maybe they haven't really hit Australia, but the square visual design is a code that can be scanned by a mobile phone to take you straight to a website. Clothing, posters, and street-taggers worldwide - these codes could pop up all sorts of places!

So here's a QR code tag photo of Melbourne's Flinders Street station. I cross the street to this station every day, and it never fails to delight me a little or a lot, yellow against blue skies, or yellow on grey, or the swirls of people meeting in Melbourne's traditional spot: Under the clocks.Posted on flickr by cologne555.

More links:
- Office Lendorff pixel art knitwear - a very cool website
- They do such desirable laptop sleeves! (mmm)

May 3, 2008

Starting anew

It's cold and damp outside today, and I'm still carrying around a heffalumpy cough, but it's a Very Good Day.

Yesterday I finished my job, as in finished my notice period, all complete, no more Mondays at the office (that office at least), and I don't know what I'm going to do next.

When I first made this decision, I was pretty uptight about it, and about whether or not it was a big risk, or irresponsible, or just whether other people would think I was a fool. - And then I talked it over with my husband, who reminded me that I've supported him while he got his writing career off the ground. "It's your turn", he said. I started to think I could take it.

And now that the die is cast, the ID badge returned, the hundreds of emails forwarded, deleted, and otherwise diverted, I feel... what? Very tired. Drained. But as if I have permission to sit and read, and hug my dog, think about excellent ideas and projects, doodle and watch the rain. I can't remember the last time I did all of those things.

I'm not excited yet, but I think I'm trying to quietly craft a new beginning.

Let's see what happens next!

May 1, 2008

Melbourne's inspiration

Last weekend, while shopping in the centre of Melbourne, I took a photo of this building on Elizabeth Street. There's a jumble of architectural styles in the city, many dating from the wealthy days of Australia's gold rush in the nineteenth century.

Setting aside the lines from the trams -- how about these details as inspiration for quilting or applique designs?