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  • nordenfjeldske kunstindustrimuseum + hannah ryggen

    This weekend I visited the Nordenfjeldske Kunstindustrimuseum, or the Museum of Decorative Arts and Design here in Trondheim. I really love museums, but for one reason or another when we moved to Tromsø in 2015 it took me around a year before I finally made it to any of Tromsø's museums. I was determined not to let that happen in Trondheim, so on a rainy Sunday I ventured out to spend a couple of hours at NKIM. 

    The museum houses a permanent collection of art and artifacts, but I was especially interested in seeing the temporary exhibition they're currently (co-)hosting, the Hannah Ryggen Triennial 2019: New Land (the other host of New Land is the Hannah Ryggen Center in Ørland). Hannah Ryggen was a textile artist born in Sweden who spent most of her life in Ørland, Norway, about an hour's boat ride from Trondheim. She predominantly worked with tapestry weaving, and part of why I find her so interesting is that a lot of her work was very overtly political – she was born in 1894 and was coming of age and beginning to work in a time where fascism was on the rise, and much of her work could be considered social commentary against injustice. I had come across Ryggen's name before but I hadn't realized quite how political her work was until I went to the exhibition. (She was also trained in painting but was self-taught as a weaver, a fact about her which I enjoyed.)

    NKIM houses the largest collection of Ryggen's works, but the exhibition itself brings together both works by Ryggen as well as contemporary works by other artists. The curator's statement is well worth a read. I enjoyed seeing all the pieces, but two artists in particular stood out to me.

    The first piece that stopped me in my tracks was Liquid, by Faig Ahmed, an Azerbaijani artist. 

    It's part of a series (you can see the pieces on his website), and there was another piece included in the exhibition, but this one really had an effect on me. The rugs are proper wool rugs, woven by hand and very traditional up until the point that they become incredibly distorted. I've never seen anything like it.

    The other artist whose work really spoke to me was Alexandra Kehayoglou, an Argentinian artist. A series of pieces titled Prayer Rugs was her main contribution to the exhibition – primarily smaller pieces, as suggested by the name, and like Ahmed's work, woolen rugs.

    The description provided in the catalogue puts it succinctly: "These tactile works are in memoriam of places that have been altered or destroyed forever. Some of them document environmental destruction, others depict lost landscapes that can never be experienced again." The tufted rugs represent memories of Kehayoglou's native landscapes, and to me the tactile nature of the pieces really drives home a sense of what is lost when we alter the landscape, intentionally or otherwise. It comes across in the small size of these pieces, but I imagine it's even more impactful in one of her larger-scale pieces (just take a peek at this one on her website).

    I'd encourage you to check out Kehayoglou's website because her work is incredibly stunning.

    Going back to Ryggen's work, the piece housed in the museum that had the biggest impact on me was one called Vi lever på en stjerne, or "We live on a star." The scale of the piece alone is overwhelming, but it was the story behind it that made me emotional. It was originally commissioned for the new government building in Oslo in 1958, the building that was until 2011 the location of the prime minister's office (among other offices). This building was one of the targets of the terrorist attacks of July 22, 2011, an event that still feels vivid in my memory, though I only experienced it from afar, learning about it while watching the news in an American airport. 77 people died that day because of one right-wing extremist. Eight years on it is still difficult to fathom. The Ryggen tapestry was damaged in the bombing, but it has been stitched back together and now bears a scar, which I was able to examine up close, as it sits in the bottom portion of the tapestry. 

    The scale of this piece is difficult to express through a photograph alone (in the museum it's located in the landing of a large stairway), but this photo of the piece in situ in the government building probably gives a better idea:

    (Photo: Leif Ørnelund / Oslo Museum, via digitaltmuseum.no)

    Perhaps this piece hit me the way it did because the 22/7 attacks have been on my mind as we approach the eighth anniversary (which is tomorrow, as it happens) and I had no idea the history of this piece so it caught me unaware. My very first visit to Norway was in November 2011, only months after the attacks, and I remember my friend Camilla walking me by the Government Quarter, where the damage was still visible, with many windows were boarded up. The government has plans to demolish the existing buildings of the quarter and build new ones, but there will always be some things that bear the scars of the damage caused by that day, just as Norway itself carries them too. 

    The exhibition has left me wanting to dig deeper into Hannah Ryggen's work, and I'll likely go see it again before it closes next month. I'd also like to make the trip to the Hannah Ryggen Center in Ørland. Perhaps I can share more about Ryggen and her work later on. If you'd like to read more in the meantime, I found this piece quite interesting. 

  • reykjavík so far

    Hello from Reykjavík, where we're halfway through DesignMarch 2014 and the Reykjavík Fashion Festival!

    I've been posting on Instagram since arriving, as have Cirilia and Stephen, and I put a bunch of our photos into the montage above. If you want to follow along, you can follow us at @cakeandvikings, @cirilia, and @westknits.

    First of all, Iceland is beautiful. I may be here for the design and fashion events (and to galavant around with buddies) but it wouldn't be that hard to skive off and stare at the landscape or out over the rooftops all day instead. Truly. 


    I arrived early in the morning on Tuesday. I had the Flybus drop me off at Reykjavík Downtown Hostel, near my friend Peter's place, which worked out well for me because I could have a coffee (I didn't sleep on the overnight flight) and some breakfast while I waited for Peter. We got to spend the day together, but I also got to get some work done and take a nap (very necessary).

    Stephen and his friend Barbara (of Chillimint) arrived from Amsterdam later that day, and Cirilia arrived the next morning. Our days thus far have consisted of a lot of coffee, snacks, and knitting. And outfit changes. Reykjavík is known for its street style but I'm not sure this city's residents can hold a candle to these guys. 

    Cirilia, Stephen, and Barbara headed down the hill to Harpa for Thursday's opening day Design Talks. I love how Harajuku Cirilia's pimped-lopapeysa look feels.

    post-coffee on Wednesday

    I feel positively tame standing next to them, swathed in black, white, and grey (right down to the lopapeysa I bought at the Handknitting Association today, seen in the Instagram montage above). But I feel like me, so it works.

    Opening day's talks on Thursday were really excellent (you can read about the programming on the DesignMarch website here). "Design" is such a diverse, broad term, and the wide range of speakers really drove that point home. The morning started off with two speakers who work in urban planning & design situations, and one of them, Kathryn Firth, might have been my favorite speaker of the day. She's working on the ongoing redesign of Olympic Park in London in the wake of the 2012 Olympics, and I have to admit I hadn't given much thought before to what happens to all the giant Olympics complexes after the games.

    After lunch the talks switched gears: we had some tech talk first (with Robert Wong from Google) and then moved on to fashion, with Mikael Schiller from Acne Studios and finally Calvin Klein. The Google talk was good, and about what you'd expect: Robert was charming in a humble, not-smooth-talking kind of way, with funny quips and emotional hooks and appropriately placed "instructional videos" that are totally ads, no matter what Google claims. I got caught up in the moment during his talk, and found my feelings toward Google (which are mostly good, but I do have some grievances) shifting in a more positive direction. After his talk, however, I came down from this magic Cloud (I guess Glass isn't a great thing to stand on) and realized I'd just been expertly emotionally manipulated. High five, Google. You're winning whatever game you're playing and it still makes me uncomfortable.

    I really enjoyed Mikael from Acne's talk. He was funny and genuine and seems generally bemused that people like what his company is doing (though of course he works very hard to make it so that people do). I probably won't buy their jeans or other clothes, but Acne's really on the up right now.

    Calvin Klein... well, he's undeniably a legend. Instead of giving a presentation like the other speakers did, his talk was in the form of an interview, and his interviewer was Icelandic designer Steinunn (a former employee of his). It was clear that CK and Steinunn have somewhat of a special relationship and the utmost respect for each other, which is lovely, but it made for a pretty vanilla interview, I must admit. I'm very glad to have heard Calvin Klein speak at all, and he gave some great advice for aspiring designers, but it would've been a much richer and more interesting interview if his interlocutor had been willing to bring up critique or controversy, or anything other than glowing praise. Perhaps if you're Calvin Klein, you have the authority (or maybe the ego) to pretend critical analysis doesn't apply to you and choose your interviewers accordingly. He was so casual when he mentioned hanging out in the Hamptons and deciding to send his personal plane to Boston to fly Marky Mark down to talk about underwear... and it was at that moment that I realized how far Calvin Klein's reality was from mine, or most of the other people in this world. Nonetheless, it was interesting to hear his story and I'm grateful I had the opportunity. 

    --

    The weather the morning of Design Talks was gorgeous, and we took advantage of the gorgeous light outside Harpa (reflected off the geometric, multi-colored windows) and snapped a few goofy photos:

    I have more to write about what we've done so far (especially the National Museum!), but I think I'll save that for the next post. Until then!

  • norwegian sweater coloring sheets

    Here's a little holiday freebie for any of you who have kids, work with kids, or just like coloring inside the lines. My sister-in-law works with kids and I had a chance to help her plan a day of Scandinavian-themed crafts. We put a bunch of traditional stuff into the mix, but I found myself mind wandering into more creative territory... and I wound up quicky drawing up a couple of coloring sheets based on traditional Norwegian sweater patterns. They're not terribly polished, but I figured I'd offer them up as downloads for any of my readers who might want to share these with kids they know.

    I've simplified the motifs somewhat to make coloring easier, but I also wanted to stay faithful to the actual design, so these sweaters would still be recognizable. As such, the Marius sheet and the Fana sheet are probably best for kids with some real dexterity (though by all means, I'd be delighted if your two year-old went to town with some crayons and made a beautiful, colorful mess out of either of them - truly!). If the files open up in your browser, try right-clicking and selecting "save." You can also right click on the link itself.

    Download the Marius Sweater coloring sheet (pdf)
    The Marius sweater, or mariusgenser, is pretty iconic. In fact, it's arguably the most famous sweater in Norway. It's that blue and white sweater with a bit of red up by the collar (blue, white, and red being the colors of the Norwegian flag). It was initially made famous by Marius Eriksen, a well-known skier, figher pilot, and actor.

    Download the Fana Cardigan coloring sheet (pdf)
    The Fana cardigan, or fanakofte, is also incredibly recognizeable to Norwegians. Like many traditional Norwegian patterns, the Fana cardigan was a regional design and took its name from a place. It is named for Fana, near Bergen. The combination of the stripes (with the dots, or "lice pattern") with the star or flower motifs and the checkerboard is incredibly traditional.

    Download the Make Your Own coloring sheet (pdf)
    The third sheet is a blank sweater template. I'm the kind of knitter who believes that anyone is capable of designing a sweater, if they set their mind to it. You may have to learn some skills along the way, but everyone has that creative potential. I love to encourage that kind of creative confidence in children, and so I made a blank sweater coloring sheet so that kids (or adults!) could draw up any design they could imagine. Stripes, patterns, symbols, words, cats, dogs, snowmen, candy... the possibilites are endless. Even a solid colored sweater would look nice.


    These aren't perfect, and they're a little quick and sloppy, but I hope you enjoy them all the same. It may be a little quiet around here over the next few weeks as I'm traveling for the holidays, but I'm going to do my best to line up some posts!

  • the new paper tiger hq

    A few weeks ago I made a very exciting decision - I signed a lease on a studio/office space for Paper Tiger! While there are some things I loved about working from home, I feel like making the leap to a workspace outside the home has been a fantastic decision for my creative work. Change can be a little scary, but over the past few weeks I've been working on putting together a bright, inviting space that is both comfortable and inspiring. It's still a work in progress, and there are a few more pieces of furniture I need to procure before it's "done" and presentable, but I thought I would share a sneak peek of a few details of the space in progress!

    For those who are curious: the succulent is Burro's Tail; the teal fabric on the wall is a Michael Miller print I bought at Drygoods Design (available here); the ombré curtain is from Target; the dreamy pendant lamp is the Garland Light by Tord Boontje; the mirror with Norwegian on it says "to dream and to do"; and the coat rack yarn holder was totally my husband's idea.

  • damien jurado / saint bartlett


    Damien Jurado's new album, Saint Bartlett, came out May 25th, and on May 29th he played an album release show here in Seattle at the Triple Door. I made this poster for it. The whole thing, from start to finish, was a made-by-hand process. I am going to attempt to document that process here, for those of you who are interested in that sort of thing - if you're not, you can just check out the images.

    I have always made a great deal of my artwork on the computer, and this poster (along with one I made last fall as well as a large-scale painting project) is part of an attempt to unplug and get back to a more tangible process of making things. And it was a process!

    This poster began as an idea: embroidery by hand only, with no aid from computers or machines in any way (with the sole exception of scanning the actual piece of fabric to reproduce it). I haven't done any embroidery since I was in elementary school, probably, so it required some preparation and planning. I skipped over to Stitches to purchase fabric, embroidery thread, and the incredibly crucial heat-transfer pencil (this was necessary for making a pattern). I sketched the whole thing up in regular pencil, first. Everything was drawn by hand, including the lettering. Then I flipped over my sketch and traced the lettering on the back of the paper with the heat transfer pencil. This gave me a heat-transferable sketch of the poster - backwards - enabling me to iron it directly onto the fabric so I knew where to place my stitches.

    Labor-intensive as that sounds, the next step was definitely the longest part. Embroidering the band names was a long process, aided by the fact that the band names were none too short. I embroidered at home, at the Jurados', in the passenger seat of friends' cars, and on the way down to Portland for a shoot with Kyle Johnson (that post will come at a later date). I took to carrying my embroidery hoop around in my purse for whenever I had a free moment. To give you a point of reference, just one letter of Damien's name would take me anywhere between 30 minutes to an hour to complete, depending on the size and complexity. Luckily, I am incredibly satisfied by this kind of time-consuming handicraft; there's something about the near-tedium that I can really get into.

    Once I finished the lettering, the trees were smooth sailing to the finish. We scanned it once, but I am a perfectionist and was not satisfied with the quality, so I ironed it out and re-scanned it. The original sits now atop my dresser, but prints are also available for $5 via Luckyhorse Industries, here. There will definitely be more unplugged tangible artwork in the near future...



    (Last two photos by the incredibly talented Sarah Jurado)

  • vinyl art

    I've recently had the opportunity to work in a new medium - plastic! I've been designing pieces made with computer cut vinyl which I can either apply to acrylic or glass as self-contained art pieces, or the vinyl can be applied to other surfaces like a sticker. It's more of a commercial medium than I'm used to but it's been a lot of fun to play around with and I have some vinyl-related projects in the works. Check back for more info on that soon... for now, here are a few of the things I've been making!


    "Hello" - series of U.S. maps in different colors/patterns (these will be for sale soon)


    "Kjøkkenet" means "kitchen" in Norwegian.


    Words are from a song by my friends The Head and the Heart.

    And Alex Crick got a great shot of one of the stickers I made, which you can see here. My friend Damien stuck it straight on his guitar!

    Keep an eye out for upcoming vinyl projects...I've been working on some title cards in collaboration with a video project being put together by Tyler Kalberg and Dylan Priest, and I'm really excited to see the outcome. These guys do great work: Tyler shot the gorgeous Doe Bay Sessions (and check out Dylan's portraits from the sessions as well as his Vimeo) so it's gonna be good!