Archive for June, 2014


…got your attention, didn’t I? ;)

When I lived in Spain, a few years ago, I fell in love with the “Hand of Fatima” door knockers. This type of door knocker is commonly seen in Portugal too. I believe the origins are Moorish, or Islamic, and adopted by the Catholics in neighbouring countries. With the rise of online sales and auction sites like eBay and Etsy etc, and global delivery becoming the norm, you can pretty much see these hand-type knockers in every corner of the world nowadays. That’s because they are just so darn elegant and pretty.

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I was going to find further information about the “Hand of Fatima” knockers, but then I found someone else who’d already blogged about it. So instead I’ll share this fellow blogger’s post here:

http://wereallmadinhere.wordpress.com/2013/02/20/hand-shaped-door-knockers-a-short-history/

Which, in turn, gives a link to a Turkish photographer with a passion for these knockers:

http://members.virtualtourist.com/m/tt/a8cb3/

Knock yourselves out! (Sorry 😆).

Door knockers, in my opinion, are the thing that creates the first impression in your mind when you see a door. You might notice that the door is shoddy but wow! what a knocker! Or, the door itself might be wonderfully made and designed…but the knocker is commonplace or even lacking altogether. I love ornate door knockers, where you feel like you’re announcing a grand entrance. Even a shabby door can be elevated to achieve a certain romance and mystique, with a fantastic knocker.

Knockers come in all shapes and sizes, as you know (!). Even pop culture has added its mark to door knockers – see the Labyrinth-inspired knocker below. Knockers can be beautiful, whimsical, comical, romantic, inspirational, eccentric, or perhaps just plain bizarre. A bit like people, don’t you think?

Here are some of my favourite knockers that I’ve seen on my Pinterest travels:

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Well, winter’s here for sure…in Australia, anyhow. When folks in the Northern Hemisphere are celebrating the arrival of Summer and hot, sunny days, here Down Under we are getting into our spell of wet, cold and dark days. Mind you, in Western Australia it doesn’t rain all that much…but when it does, it pours. No, we never get snow here in WA, our winters are too mild for that.

It’s the rain that, well, puts a dampener on things. I’m usually out and about on my trusty bicycle, but there’s a galeforce wind whipping up, it’s not the best time to be out on a bicycle. I braved the elements the other day, and I swear I nearly blew home in the wind. If I’d been on foot with an umbrella, I reckon I would’ve flown home with my shopping a la Mary Poppins!

So, when skies are grey and winds are a ablowin’ and it looks like rain, that’s when I bring out my Projects Book, for things to do indoors.

Actually, it isn’t a book, per se, but rather a Board on my Pinterest page, where I pin up interesting arty crafty projects that I want to try for myself.

Here are 3 such projects:

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I’m going to cover a cradled wooden panel (click here for instructions on how I create my panels) with Washi tape (click here for ideas I’ve collated on the uses of Washi tape). Then, I’ll create a bird or butterfly silhouette, plus trees/branches, and stick them to the panel.

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This one’s easy peasy. Use a Sharpie marker to draw your design on plain white china for simple yet beautiful decorative art. Then bake in the oven at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes. That makes the colours stayfast…but Not dishwasher safe. And definitely Not for table use. Maxwell & Williams has a good range of white tableware that would make excellent canvasses for your Sharpie art.

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This one I’m already currently working on. Only, instead of paper cutouts of butterflies, I’ve made several butterflies from superlight and airy FIMO AIR modelling clay. I just need to decide if I want to stick some printed designs on them, paint them, or simply arrange them in a shadow box, white on black.

Bring it on!

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Pain, numb, I cannot weep;
Like the parched lakes of Africa
I await the first drops of liquid
- They do not come
I wait in vain.

Numb, inured, immune
This is not the first time
Nor will it be the last
So I still my heart
I steel my heart
To bear the pain

I cannot weep,
I have wrapped myself
In my carapace of protection
Far away from you
Buried my emotions deep
Where they cannot be hurt again

You cannot break
What is already shattered
There is nothing left
But my shell which keeps me sane

By
AlyZen Moonshadow

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(Photo from Google images)

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I wanted to share these brilliant videos by Philip Scott Johnson, celebrating women in Art and Film. The first video takes the viewer through 500 years of Western Art, encapsulated by the faces of 90 celebrated paintings of women.  The music is Bach’s Sarabande from Suite for Solo Cello no.1 in G Major, BWW 1007, played by acclaimed cellist Yo-Yo Ma.

If you’re wondering who the women are in the video above, check out this site for a comprehensive list with descriptions. In 2010, Philip Scott Johnson created a sequel of sorts to “Women in Art”.  “Women in Film” uses Bach’s Prelude from the same Cello Suite as above, again played by Yo-Yo Ma, but this time morphing the faces of famous actresses of the Western world, past and present, spanning a period of 80 years.

The actresses used in the making of Johnson’s video are: Mary Pickford, Lillian Gish, Gloria Swanson, Marlene Dietrich, Norma Shearer, Ruth Chatterton, Jean Harlow, Katharine Hepburn, Carole Lombard, Bette Davis, Greta Garbo, Barbara Stanwyck, Vivien Leigh, Greer Garson, Hedy Lamarr, Rita Hayworth, Gene Tierney, Olivia de Havilland, Ingrid Bergman, Joan Crawford, Ginger Rogers, Loretta Young, Deborah Kerr, Judy Garland, Anne Baxter, Lauren Bacall, Susan Hayward, Ava Gardner, Marilyn Monroe, Grace Kelly, Lana Turner, Elizabeth Taylor, Kim Novak, Audrey Hepburn, Dorothy Dandridge, Shirley MacLaine, Natalie Wood, Rita Moreno, Janet Leigh, Brigitte Bardot, Sophia Loren, Ann Margret, Julie Andrews, Raquel Welch, Tuesday Weld, Jane Fonda, Julie Christie, Faye Dunaway, Catherine Deneuve, Jacqueline Bisset, Candice Bergen, Isabella Rossellini, Diane Keaton, Goldie Hawn, Meryl Streep, Susan Sarandon, Jessica Lange, Michelle Pfeiffer, Sigourney Weaver, Kathleen Turner, Holly Hunter, Jodie Foster, Angela Bassett, Demi Moore, Sharon Stone, Meg Ryan, Julia Roberts, Salma Hayek, Sandra Bullock, Julianne Moore, Diane Lane, Nicole Kidman, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Angelina Jolie, Charlize Theron, Reese Witherspoon, Halle Berry

Both videos captured the public’s imagination so much so that to this day there exists several different versions of them, some set to contemporary music.  The versions in this post, however, are the original ones by Johnson himself. Philip Scott Johnson’s handle on YouTube is eggman913.  He has more “morph animations” that you can watch, as well as a whole list of other interesting artistic videos.

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Yesterday, I posted about MOO’s Printfinity services here. Today, I’m simply showing off the cards I created on MOO, which arrived last week.

I had 100 standard, matte business cards made up. And also 100 mini cards. Here are the boxes they came in side by side; the business cards are in the black cardboard box, the mini cards in the white box.

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Here are the business cards:

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Close-up of front and back of business card:
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And here are the mini cards:
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Close-up:
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The card stock is of good quality. Colours are crisp and accurate. The presentation boxes are of high quality too. All in all, using MOO’s services was easy, fuss-free, efficient and great value for money.

I’m very pleased with my MOO cards! :)

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MOO is an English company specialising in primarily printing business cards, though they also make postcards, “mini” business cards, flyers, stickers, labels etc. The main website is MOO, however there are regional, geographical differences, in terms of currency displays, depending on which country you are in. For example, if you choose Europe, the site will show you MOO’s prices in Euros.

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MOO’s blurb:


MOO makes life a little less virtual.
We help our customers print things like Business Cards, Postcards and MiniCards, making it easy for them to share information about themselves or their business in the real world.

Print is simple and wonderful. We love it.

We’re a new kind of online printing business
MOO was born out of a love of beautiful, high-quality print.

Printing has been around for centuries, and we’re certainly not the first printer on the web. But, whilst many other printers have chosen to use new technologies to simply reduce the costs of printing (and often the quality), we strive to make print not only cost-effective but better than ever before.

We want to set a new standard for print, with remarkable new products that bring great design and uncompromising, high standards to the web. We’re only young, but when we grow up we want to be the best printer on the internet.

We believe in the power of great design
Design is key to everything MOO does.

Design helps us stand out: from the clothes we wear, to the homes we live in, to the business cards we use. Design tells a story about us and what we stand for.

But professional-quality design has traditionally been expensive or out of reach for most people; we want to change this. We’re passionate about helping people of all abilities design the best looking and highest quality print products: products that will help them or their business look great.

Our company vision is simple but ambitious: “great design for everyone”.

More about MOO…
MOO is an award-winning online print business.

Founded in 2006, MOO aims to disrupt the $100 billion global print industry by combining professional design with the accessibility and reach of the web.

MOO prints millions of cards a month and has hundreds of thousands of customers in over 180 countries. MOO has also become a much-loved brand, with a 75% NetPromoter rating.

The company has won 3 Webby awards (the web’s Oscars), has been profiled in the Financial Times, and was ranked in the top 10 UK start-up companies by the Guardian Newspaper. MOO has offices in London, UK as well as Providence and Boston, USA.

MOO has also raised over $5m in venture capital from the Accelerator Group, Index Ventures and Atlas Venture, the investors behind Skype, Betfair, Lovefilm, Last.fm and MySQL.

My post today is about Printfinity. Printfinity is MOO’s word for a very unique service, one I haven’t come across with other printers.

http://eu.moo.com/about/printfinity.html


What is Printfinity?
It’s the word we invented for a technology that’s completely unique to MOO. With Printfinity you can print a different photo or design on every Business Card, Sticker or Postcard in a pack. It’s a real conversation starter that means you can carry your portfolio in your pocket, show off your favourite products and help people remember your business.

As an artist, I just love the whole idea of Printfinity. For example, instead of printing 10 designs of 100 cards each, and then separating and sorting them into 100 packs of 10 designs, MOO’s Printfinity technology lets me upload my 10 designs onto their template, and then I simply have to specify whether I want 50 or 100 cards. If 50 cards, I will receive 5 of each of the 10 designs. If 100, I will receive 10 of each of the 10 designs. So I end up with just 1 pack of 100 cards, rather than 10 packs of 100 cards. Do the maths.

I have used MOO’s services a few times, primarily to get business cards made up using Printfinity. I recently ran another batch of 100 cards, using 25 different designs. I got an email from MOO offering me 50% off my next purchase, so I decided to use the same designs and have 100 “mini” cards made up as well. “Mini” cards are, half the size of business cards – 2 of them, placed side by side, make up the size of a normal business card.

Printfinity is a great way of seeing how my art looks on a product, plus I have something to show or give away to customers or potential customers too, like a pocket portfolio. I might get some flyers made up next…

MOO offers a range of different papers and finishes for their products, from a basic, everyday range to a high-end “luxe” range. This suits every budget.

The templates provided by MOO are really easy to use. For text, you get a good choice of fonts and font sizes. Simply write your text, then flip the template over to upload your images.

Delivery costs depend on the country you live in. I ordered mine and received them within 10 days, pretty good for UK to Australia these days. Each set of cards comes in its own robust cardboard box, a nice classy touch, great for presentations.

So, if you’re looking for something different, with a good range of paper options and pricing, ease of use, user-friendly templates, easy repeat ordering, a great customer service and delivery, innovative packaging, then MOO’s the one for you.

Below are examples from Google images of what others have used MOO for:

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A’Shop (pronounced A la Shop) first came onto my radar via Pinterest. (Many things come to me via Pinterest, it really is the font of all things interesting!). As is the case with all Pinterest pins, it was an image that got my attention first.

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I read that it was not one graffiti artist, but rather a collective of graffiti artists. Intrigued, I looked A’Shop up on good old Google:

A’Shop [À la shop] is an artist-run production company specialized in graffiti murals, street art and urban aesthetics. Our team started during the birth of Montreal’s graffiti scene in the early 90s, with some of our members acting as pioneers of the movement. We decided to officially associate as of 2009 in order to offer the most professional and efficient visual art service in the province. Equipped with 4000 square feet of studio and office space, we offer a wide range of creative resources and solutions, such as large-scale murals, live performances, decor, canvas art and custom design work for both commercial and private clients. Innovative ideas, authentic creations and street credibility are our signature style. We are the reference.

I love the idea of a group of artists getting together to collaborate on a large-scale mural covering an entire wall, rather than doing “their own thing”. The cohesiveness of the design makes the art preservable, you really want to keep it unsullied rather than call in the Graffiti Removals Police. Self-respecting graffiti artists will hopefully honour the sanctity of those walls and refrain from adding their own artwork to it. The completed graffiti artwork doesn’t have “tags” (signatures) of any individual graffiti artist, just a simple “A’Shop CA” signature. I have seen graffiti murals around where I live in Perth, Western Australia, that would have been wonderful if not for being desecrated by ignorant, egoistical hooligans. Some municipal councils here have started paying graffiti artists to decorate walls formally, to deter unsightly graffiti; these are largely successful, but sometimes some idiot with a can of spraypaint just can’t help making his own mark over it. I’ve read of some private homeowners who have commissioned graffiti artists to paint on their outer walls, with the hope it is appreciated as Art and doesn’t get destroyed by someone on an ego trip.

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(Excerpt from the A’Shop website):

When it comes to murals, whether it be large or small scale, nobody does it better than A’shop. We have mastered many styles, from the gritty street aesthetic to beautiful, photorealistic portraits. We are equipped to handle your project like no other company can. We have at our disposal 2000 square feet of studio space, a full graphics team for design and mock-ups, our A’shop van, paint guns, scaffolding, compressors, a complete inventory of the best paint on the market as well as in-depth knowledge regarding permits and municipal procedures across Canada. We provide more than just answers to your questions. We work with you throughout the project, starting from the initial consultation all the way up to documentation of the final product. We can also incorporate a mural into interior design projects or commercial settings.

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(Excerpt from the A’Shop website):

Some things look better framed, but at times you just want to break the boundaries. Our resident artists can paint custom artwork on any surface, from canvas to car, while bringing their unique flavor to each commissioned piece. Our team will assist you throughout your project starting at the initial consultation to the delivery of your personalized masterpiece. Equipped with 2000 square feet of studio space and our own loading dock, we can accommodate all of your project needs no matter the size or quantity. Our in-depth knowledge of paints, stains and finishes will ensure that you get a high quality product no matter what materials you provide us with.

 

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(Excerpt from the A’Shop website):

Family and community values have always been at the core of what we do as artists, and as a company. We now pride ourselves in being able to give opportunities and mentorship to the upcoming artists of the future. It is a privilege for us to pass along our knowledge in workshops aimed at helping youths gain confidence and hone their artistic abilities. We offer guidance for community services and schools looking to develop art programs, as well as participative mural projects that will inspire the whole neighborhood. We also offer unique team building experiences for companies looking to strengthen their troops, and seminars for scholars interested in the cultural history of street art and the graffiti movement.

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A’Shop’s Mission Statement:

At A’shop our goal is not only to provide a sustainable environment for our artists, but also to bring about positive change to our community through art. We seek to educate and uplift through the poetry of paint and we hope to drive a domino effect of change by inspiring the artist that resides in the hearts of every citizen, young or old. By enhancing the value of our urban architecture we aim to improve the cultural standing of our city as well as providing beautiful public art that is accessible for all to enjoy.  

Ashop-a'shop-Graffiti-Street-Art-mural-Maison-de-la-Culture-pinocchio-puppet-pantin-marionette-toy-violin-montreal-hochelaga-maisonneuve

 

For more examples of A’Shop’s incredible works of art, and a Who’s Who of the collective, head on over to their website.

https://m.facebook.com/ashopcrew?_rdr

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By this I mean external battery packs for mobile phones. Nothing to do with health drinks LOL.

My old iPhone 4 used to guzzle its battery power. It still does, only now that’s my kid’s problem and not mine anymore. I’m sure you all have your horror stories to tell about your own mobile devices.

I switched from Apple iOS to Android in 2012, and I haven’t looked back since. I am perfectly happy and satisfied with my Samsung Galaxy S4. I have no intention of upgrading to the S5, as it just doesn’t offer enough advancement and new features to qualify in my mind as a real upgrade. I’ll wait instead for the S6 next year.

Besides, with the iPhone 3 I really felt the lag in technology when the iPhone 4 came out. But with Samsung my S4 was simply able to keep up with any new operating system updates.

The problem with smartphones is that the smarter they are, the more battery power they consume. My S4 is not as bad as my iPhone 4 was, but it’s slightly worrying that I can leave my house in the morning with a 100% charge and not use the mobile for anything other than checking some emails and surfing the internet whilst on the bus/train…and by 3pm the battery indicator is already on less than 50%.

Here’s where “juice packs” come in. I must’ve been one of the earliest users of these external battery packs. My first was an Energiser in 2011, which boasted a measly 1000mAh. (mAh stands for “miliAmpere hour” – basically, the higher the number, the faster your device gets charged up. I’ll spare you the science). The Energiser was okay for emergency charging, though not for much else.

My S4 has a removable Li-ion battery (hear me roar! :D), so it was a no brainer to buy a couple of spare batteries to keep in my bag, for occasions where there might be heavy or continuous use of my phone. This worked well, but for the slight hassle of having to later charge up 2 batteries.

So, last Xmas I bought a Plox external battery charger. It cost $90. It worked alright for a couple of months, then I noticed the dreaded “loose connection” problem. I used to have this problem with iPhone chargers, where they would work for a while, then start giving you “charging with this accessory may not be supported on this device” messages. My Plox itself wasn’t charging up like it should. Or maybe its 4 blue LED indicator lights weren’t working. Maybe it was both…whatever the case, the Plox gave up the ghost in April, just 4 months after I’d purchased it.

I was lucky enough to get the Plox replaced with an identical one, as I’d thankfully kept the receipt. Sadly, Plox No.2 only lasted til the beginning of June, then it too went kaput. I went back to the store I’d bought it from, with the intention of substituting it with a different brand juice pack. But they didn’t stock any other brand.

So, instead, I got a full refund. I haven’t linked any mentions of the Plox to the company’s website in this post, as I can’t recommend it to anyone. The design is poorly executed and it doesn’t help when the micro-USB cable has to be twisted awkwardly in order to charge my S4; this weakens the cable whenever the charger is used. To have had the unit fail me for the same reason, not once but twice in 6 months, is unforgiveable.

I did some research on mobile juice packs, looked at dozens of models on eBay, weighed up the pros and cons of each one, then made up my own list of prerequisites. In the end, it was an unbranded Chinese juice pack that won the contest.

My new juice pack can be charged up via a wall socket, but also via solar power (that was the deciding factor for me). The mAh rating is a very respectable high 10,000. Granted, the solar panels would only get charged at 1000 mAh, but hey, if I was ever caught out in a zombie apocalypse in the wilderness with no electrical supply for recharging devices, I’d have the last mobile phone standing, with this baby. The unit weighs in at over 300g so it’s not a lightweight, but most of the weight is due to the solar panels and the rechargeable battery within the casing. It has 2 USB ports and a handy LED torch on one end. There’s also a loop for a clip on the other, in case you need to hook the unit up somewhere.

I’m very happy with my Mandarin, as I call it. It’s Chinese and it has orange trimming…geddit? ;-)

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And if you’d like to know the eBay seller, it’s ly-solar. Items come from China, not Sydney, Australia. Postage worldwide is free, and this seller has impeccable after-sales customer care. I was kept up to date with package tracking, and the seller emailed me a number of times to reassure me that the item was in transit. Highly recommended.

http://pages.ebay.com/link/?nav=item.view&id=191137152191&alt=web

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Every year in March for the last 15 years, Cottesloe Beach in Perth, Western Australia, plays host to the “Sculpture by the Sea” exhibition. This is a competition which attracts entries by international artists, with big prizes for the winners. More information about “Sculpture by the Sea” here. I recently wrote about this event in a previous post.

Just a little further south of Perth, not many miles away, in May each year since 2008, the city of Rockingham, Western Australia, hosts its own sculpture exhibition on its foreshore. It’s called “Castaways”, and, as the name suggests, it revolves around the theme of recycling and repurposing of materials. For more information, click this link.

In conjunction with the event, Rockingham City Council also runs a photography contest and a poetry competition – details here.

Castaways may as yet not be as well publicised as its sister event in Cottesloe, but it is rapidly garnering more fans and participants, and each year there are more and more members of the public making the (short) trip down to sleepy Rockingham for the event, which spans 2 weekends.

Here are some photos from this year’s Castaways.

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I for one am very proud to call Rockingham home.

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A one storey house
But we have neighbours upstairs
And they are in the walls too

Rolling and flapping
Scurrying, scrabbling and thrashing
… Our noisy neighbours

Out during the day
…a different story at night
Having a thumping good time

You would be frightened
If you were in bed and heard them
Our noisy neighbours upstairs

When the sun has set
The strange rumblings begin and
Chase across the ceiling space

Aside from the noise
They never utter a word
Not a peep, no chirp, no squeak

Our neighbours upstairs
Know how to have a good time
“Let’s get this party started!”

Oh, rats.

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By
AlyZen Moonshadow

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