Sunday, May 27, 2012

Pioneertown To Palm Springs

 Last weekend we headed south to see Dum Dum Girls at Pappy & Harriet's, stay at the Pioneertown Motel in the high desert, drive through Joshua Tree and seek out some sun in Palm Springs. Here's what it looked like.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

DIY: Watercolor Cards

I'm really into watercolor right now, and I've been making cards like this one for every occasion that's come up recently. They're simple but pretty, and it's an easy way to make a thoughtful handmade card if you don't have mad drawing skills (I don't) but are crazy in love with fonts (I definitely am).

To make a card like this you need regular paper, tracing paper, watercolor paper or cards and watercolor paints and paintbrush.
  1. Pick out a font with letters big enough to trace around. I like this weirdo one, but you can find others too.
  2.  Print out your message on regular paper, and then trace over it on tracing paper.
  3. Position the tracing paper over your watercolor card or paper, and trace over your message again pressing down a bit hard. This will leave an imprint of your message.
  4. On your watercolor card, carefully pencil in the lines of the impression you just made. Now you have the completed outline of your message.
  5. Watercolor! I like the washed out ombré effect you can get by starting out with a lot of bright paint, and then just dipping the brush in more and more water to lighten it up.

    VoilĂ ! Find a font and color combination you like, and you can be your own stationery company.

    Tuesday, May 8, 2012

    Buckminster Fuller: Geodesic Domes

    Last week I saw Sam Green's live documentary The Lovesong of R. Buckminster Fuller. Green himself narrated the film, and Yo La Tengo played an accompanying score created specifically for the project. It really felt like a documentary coming alive in front of you, and I was surprised by how much I enjoyed the format. Green was able to influence and be influenced by the mood in the room, and to add funny asides or emphasize points in way that just couldn't be done if he weren't right there. It was also almost magical to experience live that specific type of music you hear in documentaries that punctuates sadness, excitement, doom or wonderment.

    Buckminster Fuller is most famous for popularizing the geodesic dome, but he was an all around visionary. A before-his-time figure who wanted to end war by means of good design, Fuller wanted do more with less before we even realized how much less we had.

    These are pics of my current favorite dome at Slide Ranch, in Marin. It's a teaching farm and absolutely beautiful place where we're lucky enough to be getting married this fall. In addition to a yurt, this dome is the only other structure on the grounds where we'll be having the wedding.

    Green's film was fun and interesting if not a trenchant, exhaustive examination of Fuller's life. But then again, what could be? He's said to have lived the most documented human life in history, and aside from the dome, Fuller may be most famous for his dymaxion chronofile  — a 1300-linear-foot archive consisting of every documentable thing he came into contact with throughout his entire life (the dymaxion chronofile lives right here in the Bay Area at Stanford University Library — I could go visit!). On the one hand, this is an amazing art project that's left a fascinatingly complete and one-of-a-kind record of an exceptional man's life; on the other hand, it's radically anti-minimal. If the dome does more with less in the sense that it's the most efficient means of enclosing space, isn't collecting every piece of your life's detritus a way of doing less with more? I mean, you would need a really big dome.

    Then again, what utopian figure isn't without his inherent contradictions? And that's the thing about utopian visions, they don't tend to work out. But they do provide inspiration, both earnest and reactionary, and it seems to me Bucky's ideas are valuable for that reason. We may not have achieved peace via dome, but they're certainly lovely, interesting, practical structures for some purposes. And if they didn't revolutionize humanity, they at least crystallize ideas that point in a hopeful direction.