Writing about style, design and all things that catch my eye!

Perfectly imperfect and casually luxe; these are a few of my favorite things.

Monday, February 28, 2011

Hermès Festival des Métiers, WOW!

When a day takes you by surprise and you are left with an unexpected affection for the basic foundation of an entire company, then you know that you should have left the house much earlier so as to have both seen and heard more from the expert craftspeople who travelled here from France. The basis of the The Hermès Festival des Métiers (Festival of Crafts) traveling tour is focused on showing the world the dedication that they give to offering us the ultimate quality from the hands of their expert artisans. This show is to honor them.
As a bit of background, I am a woman who strongly believes in the long term use of many items in my own closet. I still wear the same tiny diamond earrings that I received as a gift when I completed 8th grade, the same long, black cashmere coat I picked when I was 15 (it's probably from the mid '50s), the same Louis Vuitton backback that was gifted to me nearly 12 years ago; and on, and on, and on. My visit to The Bravern was suggested by my friend Stephanie, and I have to say a big Thank You! This exhibit is so great that her own sister and young niece were back there again today. 
Here's a photo montage of what I saw (at the bottom are the diamonds and more text). What I like the most is the old fashioned attention to detail that is all done by hand.

They create their own natural dyes and farm their own silk.

Henri has worked for Hermes over 30 years (since he was 14). 
The first screen is the black outlines- there are 7-10(?)  more coming!

Nearly complete.

From here, they would dry, have "something" put on them, + a hand sewn edge.

Look at the carpet created for the exhibit, and the strips of unsellable scarves.

Gorgeous pinks and reds...

Greens, blues, purples...

She creates the multiple layers of sheets needed to create the individual silk screens. 

The large cuff bracelet is white gold, and later, the diamond pyramids are attached.

It takes her 17 hours to hand set the diamonds into one pyramid.

Arriving at 1:20, I peeked at the gloves that were being handmade, saw a watchmaker (originally from Switzerland) making watches, glanced over at the large crowd trying on leather hats near the saddle. There was also a stunning turquoise purse that had been crafted, women hand stitching men's ties and shirts... That's when the over one hour long silk screening show started though. I watched it all and learned so much. Hermes is a luxury brand that doesn't cut corners anywhere. The man leading the discussion said that while a new customer may be hard to come by, it's easy to lose many customers if small defects are ever allowed. That's why most of the items created on this exhibit will not be sold.

I appreciate the lengths they go to design the best products. While such quality has an extremely high retail cost, once you see the workmanship behind each and every piece, you understand that these are items to be treasured for life--  hopefully even handed down to future generations as with the young women in the audience who were all wearing ones from their grandmother. One scarf was over 30 years old, yet looked brand new. That's something to stand behind. 

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Designer Jam/Deluxe Foods

 Good Food Award 2011 winner  Deluxe Foods & their Gingered Rhubarb jam.
Way to go!

When my youngest daughter was in elementary school there was another mom there who had the biggest smile and the coolest coats. Rebecca Staffel was one busy business lady at the time, yet I always looked forward to seeing her so we could catch up. I remember that she worked on intense projects, so it was hit or miss when that would be. Luckily for all of us she has struck out on her own doing the kind of work that she loves-- which means that she's in the kitchen, currently making all sorts of fancy jam.

Rebecca has quickly amassed a loyal following by working from classic French recipes and making them her own with signature ingredients. These choice concoctions stem from sustainably grown Washington fruits and vegetable (when available), along with lemon juice and organic evaporated cane sugar; she uses no pectin, yet lets all of the natural flavors create an unparalleled sense of wow. For example, there's Peach Jam with Vanilla and Bourbon, Raspberry with Thyme, or even Blueberry Mint. It's almost hard to choose since they all sound perfect. Rebecca creates these small batch jams using the commercial kitchen at Picnic on Phinney Ridge. 

Sold at specialty shops around Seattle and on-line for everyone else. Take a look at her product list and read more about this delightful Jam Goddess.

A new kind of busy! Rebecca is lucky that her husband is Eric Berg of JRA Bikeshop 
all photos courtesy of Rebecca Staffel

I suggest that everyone make their tables, counters or picnic blanket look a bit fancier this year with a jar of this on hand. Plus, take note that this isn't just breakfast jam; you will find many uses for fantastic savory meals, cocktail appetizers and more! Be sure to let me know what you do with your first jar.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

The Art of the Urn

Blue Sky urn by Timothy Foss, exclusively at Lundgren Monuments

Just look at these handcrafted, designer urns available at Lundgren Monumentsthe brainchild of my talented friend of many years, Seattle's own everywhere man and multimedia artist Greg Lundgren who is also the co-owner of two popular lounges on First Hill: The Hideout and Vito's (with another friend; business partner Jeff Scott). Greg's history as a cast glass designer and artist eventually lead to him creating the most stunning glass memorials imaginable. If we could see a cemetery filled with these creations, we might be blinded by the light.  To see what I mean, be sure to check out his photo album on the Lundgren Monuments Facebook Page

He has certainly filled a void in what is historically a desolate grey granite landscape. 

Thinking of interiors though, I am focusing on these local urns created by artists, artisans & architects willing to bring innovation, beauty and sometimes a bit of fun to this otherwise stagnant field. They are works of art that would fit into any home regardless of their purpose. Of course, there's no denying that in actuality, these are intended for the ashes of real people who were loved, cherished, and taken care of by any one of us though. With the probability of it being the most emotionally charged item in your home, who would want anything less? I give a special nod of appreciation to the artists who've created such possibilities even.  

Of note, I've found that if you spend one minute in a traditional, conservative funeral home, you will likely be appalled by your lack of choices. From rectangular wooden containers that look like cigar humidors, to (I kid you not) a giant scalloped shell made of a biodegradable material meant to be tossed into the water, you will quickly see that this is typically an uninspired industry filled with sad looking options.

But these ones, OH, MY! They are extraordinary, and at the heart of them is the belief that we are all diverse, exceptional individuals. If only for the sake of viewing great art, take a look at these stunners:

Large Fir Heart Vessel By Arne Pihl, exclusively at Lundgren Monuments

Lego urn by Greg Lundgren

Wood and glass urn by Greg Lundgren

Future: by the architecture firm Chadborn+Doss

Leather wood & bag urn by Ian Butcher

Glass House urn by Greg Lundgren
All photos used courtesy of Greg Lundgren

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

My house, in the middle of my street.

Lately, design magazines are filled with white walls, yet there is not a single one over here. Nearly 7 years ago I said that the sage walls in the bedroom would be gone within a month. Instead, we've lived with them due to the fact that we had so many other things to do first. Once we found the large oil painting at an estate sale across the street from us, the wall color has stayed the same. I really love that piece of art. There's a man in the top left corner who is hunched over with his hand on his head. It's intriguing. I'm thinking he's reflected in his own mirror after an especially trying day. Who placed that large white bouquet on the table in front of him? I've always wanted to know his story, and not just because it looks like he's possibly not wearing anything as he sits on a bench in his foyer maybe (which is odd). 

Of note, that Jonathan Franzen book on my side table is now finished, and I think I'll give it away. Anyone want to read it? If you're antagonistic* to light hearted, happy books and appreciate character development, this is your book. He certainly has a gift for storytelling, and since he's deliberately cultivated his own image writing the way he does, you've got to appreciate that he really doesn't care what we think. 

Personally, I'm only feeling opposition to the noncommittal forces of nature. Those who know me well would agree that I'm much too optimistic for much else.
antagonistic |anˌtagəˈnistik adjectiveshowing or feeling active opposition or hostility toward someone or something

In the meantime, wish me luck getting good photos that show more of what my house is like; not just dark corridors and a corner of my bedroom (whole rooms even). 

Saturday, February 12, 2011


Show me some bloglovin' won't you? If inspired, you can follow Gingham & Gold here at blogger, on facebook, twitter and now you can track all your favorite blogs at:

Just for fun, here's a peek into the absolute favorite project that I've worked on so far. While I didn't take a great photo, you can see the joy behind these classically sculpted dancers being so excited for the deer and numbers frolicking on the wall above them. 

Have a wonderful week everyone; and thanks for reading my blog!!! 

Friday, February 11, 2011

Building of demolition, Castle of Threads

The Seattle arts community is rallying behind the recent news of the probable building demolition, and subsequently, the certain relocation of more that 100 artists from the beloved 619 Western Building. Numerous structural concerns arose about the building due to the upcoming construction of the Alaska Way viaduct tunnel. The city is currently in the process of answering 87 questions from these artists. Click here to see their progress so far.

This post isn't all about reality though. It's about a dream.

dreamy threads
bright colors
wistful women
beautiful gowns

Photographer Ross James recently presented a colorful, spring-inspired photo narrative titled "i awoke and i was in a CASTLE OF THREADS". The interactive installation, photo projection, and print displays featured a collaboration with local fashion designer Chrissy Wai-Ching. The 619 Western building hosted this event in what was possibly one of the final art walks there. ****Luckily, the current report is that it should remain open into the 2011 year**** stay tuned!

Thanks to Ross for letting me use his gorgeous photos. Here are the ones from last week's art walk; followed by the large photo shoot images. The models are Ming Huang and Lanna Barrones (full credits for making this all happen are at the end of the video above). Are your dreams this colorful; and could someone capture them as beautifully for you in a camera lens? Would you even let them? I've been thinking bright, so I think that maybe it happened right here. I barely remembered anything until now... 

Smashing Divas makeup artist Krystal Lechner

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

The past morphs to the now.

Tying it all together with my own definitions for: 
gingham + gold + alchemy

gingham |ˈgi ng əm| noun

The concept of this word simply references a tried and true classic fabric that originated in the 17th century (possibly from the Netherlands, or Italy or Indonesia-- the Malay word ging-gang means striped). The original fabric was imported to Manchester England where factories began producing it in a checked or plaid pattern. Eventually, it was exported to America. I like the idea of gingham's accessibility, and its continued ability to charm us.

ORIGIN early 17th cent.from Dutch gingang, from Malay genggang(originally an adjective meaning striped’ ).

Toast 2011 Catalogue, Corynne Scarf

gold |gōld| noun

The metal gold speaks for itself with its naturally appealing shape that once melted gets turned into nearly anything we want it to be. This shiny color lends to its history as a highly sought after precious metal that has been used for coins, art, jewelry, architecture, decor, and even as gold leaf on food (entirely safe to eat, but why?). If you ask me, leave it off my chocolateI'd rather wear a gold necklace or a big cuff bracelet.

ORIGIN Old English , of Germanic origin; related to Dutch goud and GermanGold, from an Indo-European root shared by yellow .

alchemy |ˈalkəmē| noun

Alchemy, in it’s most commonly known form, is the ancient pursuit of turning base metals into gold. Over time, it became much more than that though. Spanning more than 2,500 years (around the world) it’s been known as such things as: a philosophy, a spiritual path, a base to modern inorganic chemistry... with a continued part in art & literature. For me, it's about mixing luxe items with more accessible goods to make the world a more visually appealing place for all. I guess I'm a scientist after all. In theory!

ORIGIN late Middle English via Old French and medieval Latin from Arabicalkīmiyā ', from al ‘the’ kīmiyā ' (from Greek khēmia, khēmeia ‘art of transmuting metals’ ).

Ancient Alchemists in a hazy lab (artist unknown) 
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