Jun 172010

Hats and Headpieces @ Royal Ascot 2010

To get you ready for Friday’s party and your birthday headpieces, here’s a mix of recent photos from two different sources: shots of Diana Moldovan by Eric Ray Davidson for Contributor Magazine and the Royal Ascot  races taking place outside London this past week.

Lots of potential DIY ideas for a night on the town. Love the juxtaposition between the two sets – pretty fantastical but on your birthday you can pretty much wear whatever you want!

Diana Moldovan by Eric Ray Davidson for Contributor Magazine

Diana Moldovan by Eric Ray Davidson for Contributor Magazine

Diana Moldovan by Eric Ray Davidson for Contributor Magazine

Diana Moldovan by Eric Ray Davidson for Contributor Magazine

Hats and Headpieces @ Royal Ascot 2010

Hats and Headpieces @ Royal Ascot 2010

Hats and Headpieces @ Royal Ascot 2010

Hats and Headpieces @ Royal Ascot 2010

Hats and Headpieces @ Royal Ascot 2010

Via Fashion Gone Rogue, The Guardian and MSN.com

May 312010

Yard Sale Poster Halifax, Nova Scotia - May 2010

One of the first thing you notice as an out-of-towner in downtown Halifax is that the streets are lined with numerous wooden poles which feature some really creative posters for club nights, art shows and yard sales. I might be mistaken, but it’s like the city is pretty much all for spreading the word about local, grassroots happenings at street level, rather than showcasing huge corporate advertisements behind glass windows.

Yard Sale Poster Halifax, Nova Scotia - May 2010

For example, I loved finding the silkscreened poster stapled to a wooden pole for the Long Live the Queen Festival (which was featured in my last post).

Yard Sale Poster Halifax, Nova Scotia - May 2010

What I found really cool though were the yard sale posters along North Street on our way to the Festival. Rather than the generic orange, black and white “Garage Sale” sign or photocopied pages with varying sizes of Times New Roman text, these posters were like pages from a colouring book: handdrawn with block or bubble text, fun, with loads of colour and caricatures.

Yard Sale Poster Halifax, Nova Scotia - May 2010

Each poster had a different address on it. So it was like making these colouring book-esque posters to promote was the norm in the neighbourhood, each one competing for your attention in an endearing way and making you think that if these posters were so unique, then the kind of items at the sale might be unique too.

Yard Sale Poster Halifax, Nova Scotia - May 2010

These are definitely the kind of garage sales that I want to go to.

May 132010

Outside My Window This Morning

If it’s not my alarm clock that wakes me up in the morning it’s the sound of screaming children from the elementary school in my backyard. So not being an early bird, I’m usually quite grumpy until I have my morning cup of coffee. But seeing this first thing from my window with the sun shining brightly, I knew it would be the start of a good day. And it was.

May 112010

A First Lady and Her Shoes: End Result
A First Lady and Her Shoes

“I was born ostentatious. They will list my name in the dictionary someday. They will use ‘Imeldific‘ to mean ostentatious extravagance.” — cited in an Associated Press report, April 1998

Lately I’ve been looking to my cultural identity as a source of creative inspiration. Above is what I hope is the first of many pieces inspired by exploring the history, symbols, and present context associated with my ethnic background – I’m a second-generation Filipino Canadian – and mixing it up with art, craft, fashion and the DIY movement. The current “handmade movement” in my opinion tends to neglect the role that non-North American or non-European cultures play in what techniques and products are valued, and so I wanted to see if and how these areas could be integrated.

A First Lady and Her Shoes: Work in Progress
Work in Progress: Imelda Sans Maquillage

It’s a silkscreened diptych called A First Lady and Her Shoes, and is of Imelda Marcos, former Philippines first lady, and a pair of shoes from the shoe museum in Marikina, Philippines, where hundreds of her shoes are on display (749 pairs to be exact). It parallels Andy Warhol’s pieces Jackie O. (1964) and Diamond Dust Shoes (1980-81) using colours of the Philippine flag. Marcos is arguably one of the most popular pop culture icons of the Philippines. Who’s the first person you think of when someone has a lot of shoes? Check out some of her infamous quotes here.

The two pieces were requested by Galerie SAW Gallery here in Ottawa and displayed this past weekend at the Alternative Art Fair in Sudbury, presented by la Galerie du Nouvel-Ontario.

Here Lies Love Poster

The time also seemed about right with nationwide elections in the Philippines that took place on Monday, as well as the exciting tribute album released a few weeks ago that David Bryne of the Talking Heads and Fatboy Slim put together to celebrate Imelda’s life. Here Lies Love is a collection of 20 songs featuring famous singers including Sharon Jones, Cyndi Lauper, Santigold and Martha Wainwright. Track teasers are below:

It’s rocking my Ipod right now (and it looks like it is for Imelda too..)

Imelda Listening - NY Times

Apr 072010

Vogue March 2010

With a birthday bash like this one, what’s a girl to wear?

Fortunately for me, the timing of the event with the Camouflage exhibition at the War Museum couldn’t be any better. Military garb is in for Spring 2010 as seen in collections from Balmain, etc.

Here’s some photos that have got me thinking about what to wear at the event:

Aquilano.Rimondi Spring-Summer 2010
Aquilano Rimondi S/S 2010

Nancy Z via lookbook.nu

Marie-Claire Brazil 2010

Vogue March 2010

Marie-Claire Brazil 2010

Chloe S/S 2010

Svenja Specht, Cosmic Camouflage Dress, 2010

Some of these look like potential DIY projects after the birthday bash, such as the huge knitted scarf with big buttons or the Chloe shirt with changed up sleeves. As of now still undecided – will have to rummage my closet a few hours before the event…

Mar 272010


Thinking about the theme for S&N’s 5-year birthday bash at the Canadian War Museum, we knew we’d be linking up with the Camouflage: From Battlefield to Catwalk exhibit.

When we toured the exhibit a couple months ago looking for inspiration, we were surprised to find that camouflage isn’t all about brown and green motifs. There’s also another type of camouflage, called “dazzle” or sometimes “razzle dazzle”, which caught my eye and which inspired the poster and some of the projects for the event.

Instead of using colours to try to blend in with the background, dazzle camouflage uses bright colours and contrasting diagonal stripes. It was painted on naval ships in World War I by the Allies not so much to hide the ship from enemy weapon operators but to distort the ship’s size and direction.

Really nice photos of dazzle camouflage ships can be found at this recent post at Twistedsifter and on the Rhode Island School of Design, which last year held an exhibit of its collection of dazzle camouflage ship drawings. A great post on the influence of modern art on dazzle camouflage can be found at Dark Roasted Blend.

Here’s some contemporary takes on this type of camouflage (including the first ship below designed by Jeff Koons):

Guilty (2008), yacht designed by Jeff Koons

Dazzle Camouflage (for Peter) – Canoe by Carrie Schneider

Dazzle Painted Cars, Patricia van Lubeck

Dazzle House by Stephen Hobbs

Dazzle Tent for Lowlands Music Festival, Netherlands by Experimental Jetset

Feb 242010

Magda Sayeg: Mexico City Bus Project
Magda Sayeg stitching for the Mexico City Bus Project, 2008

Fittingly, the seventh and final artist profile features who many would consider is the poster-lady for urban knit graffiti: Magda Sayeg of Knittaplease fame.

Currently based in Austin, Texas, Magda began Knittaplease in 2005 as a response to the dehumanizing qualities of an urban environment. As her website says: “The simple juxtaposition of this woven material placed within an urban environment has inspired a new generation of knitters who no longer view function as the sole purpose for knitting. This new approach to knitting questions the assumptions of a traditional craft while adding a previously unused material to the world of street art.”

We were able to nab Magda before Winterlude opening weekend for an hour-long conversation over Skype. Here’s what she had to say about urban knit and street art movements, her creative background, how the city has influenced her work and where she sees this whole movement going.

KnittaPlease at National Gallery of Australia
KnittaPlease graffiti at National Gallery of Australia, 2009

S&N: How long have you been making things, in particular knitting? Are there other ways you get creative e.g. music, design other ways?

I’ve been making things my entire life. I’ve never been the kind of kid to be bored and demand instant entertainment. I’m 36 now and if I were bored I’d even cut up newspapers and make hats.

I come from a family where creativity and being an artist wasn’t considered a legitimate profession. As I got older, there was less concern for my parents’ approval so I explored food. That was back in the 90s, when coffeehouses were the cool thing. When I started making food I had such a creative time doing it. I did it for 10 years but then the work load became too intensive. I decided one day to get into craft and making clothes and making things and did a craft market and that just filled me with a newfound interest. I picked up on stuff that I liked as a pre-teen, which led me to opening a shop where I carried good design like from Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) graduates, which perhaps was too cutting edge for Houston. I found myself really frustrated. That’s where Knitta was born. I was looking at the ceiling and then just picked up knitting needles for the first time in 20 years. I would spend hours and hours knitting – there was an instant satisfaction. So when I made that knit graffiti piece for the door handle, I was thrilled with it. I never expected other people to enjoy it as I did. But people who walked by would ask about it. I decided to call up my friend and explained this whacky idea of putting material on steel or signposts. At the time I didn’t call myself an artist or graffiti artist. But people loved it – they got out of their car and took pictures. I decided then I wanted to do every STOP sign in the city.

KnittaPlease at Mexico City Bus Project
Mexico City Bus Project, 2007

S&N: You’ve travelled around the world with Knitta. What’s been your favourite piece that you’ve installed? In what city?

The bus in Mexico City is my all time favourite. (S&N: The project took a week for the six yarnbombers to complete, using repurposed knitted and crocheted blankets. The bus was hollowed out and used as a workshop space for the community arts. The bus is still parked at Plaza San Luis). It’s like I left my child there. I went there with a bunch of material and secretly didn’t know what I was going to do with it. But with the good support of some local people, we got it done in 4 days. It brought a whole new attention to my work – it was like a springboard to my career. I had the Guiness Book of World Records calling. Normally this kind of thing only responded to people who were into craft and the DIY movement.

With travelling you get to meet people all around the world. I’ve never experienced anything like this in my professional career, nothing has every warmed my heart like this. I never had this feeling with retail. I get to connect with other people around the world, who are still friends. Knitting brings such a powerful connection.

Magda Sayeg Knit Graffiti in Austin, Texas
Austin, Texas, 2009

S&N: How does your city of Austin inspire you creatively? How has travelling to different cities inspired you?

Knitta was born in Houston. Houston is inspiring for its food, international flair, but has no appreciation for history or urban planning. Everything is new, little that is old. Freeways, cement, but a lot of trees. Austin has civic pride and it’s changed my attitude. Austin is so beautiful in terms of art but still has a struggling arts scene because it’s a music and film town. But the energy is so great and positive.

In terms of my inspiration, I’m a blog addict for sure. I’ll give a nod to a handful of artists who inspired me when Knitta was a sparkle in my eye, everything from graffiti artists to museums to children. Barry McGee, Jeff Koonz, Tom Freidman. I also absolutely love graphic design. Mike Perry’s blog. I’m constantly inspired by different things from Turner classics to fashion.

Travelling to different cities helps me explore my work. I do approach every project differently. There have been times where I’ve been asked to do something the same as the last project but I like to do different things, to progress. I have a dream list of projects I’d like to do.

It’s interesting, a city like Venice you can’t think of as being the same urban context as other cities. It’s not urban, it’s ancient but it’s beautiful. It was the only city in the world that was made with the intention of not using cars. I’ve asked myself, do I even invade this city with relics? Though because it’s so ancient, I think the young people yearned for something different. I do see myself going back. I’ve been invited to Italy five times in the last year and a half. Juxtaposing urban contexts in all sorts of ways creates a dialogue with someone because it engages the person unexpectedly.

Knit Graffiti by Magda Sayeg, Venice Italy
Venice, Italy, 2009

S&N: What’s up next for Knitta and your other creative endeavours?

As far as projects go, I’m doing large-scale projects in Austin and then Rome and then Estonia. I’m doing a lot of work with corporations. It’s actually worked out quite fun and I think it’s fine working with sponsors. The bus for example wouldn’t have happened it wasn’t for Aboslut Vodka. I am working on the Knitta book and now gatheirng all submissions. It’s kind of unknown territory putting it all together. I’ve got a new website for myself as an artist. I do feel I want to use my name more than Knitta. It was a little bit of collective that I started with Knitta but I am doing more solo-oriented projects so I feel less of connection. But I’m not laying it to rest yet as of yet – it’s my comfort zone.

KnittaPlease at The Standard, Los Angeles

S&N: Where do you see urban art headed in the next few years?

Right now I see cities and people that are responsible for the development of cities paying more attention to the idea that this (knit graffiti) is a legitimate art form. Though that could be good or bad. What I do see though is different kinds of graffiti that won’t be so banned or outlawed. People are putting down the spray can picking up everything from LED lighting to moss to Banksy‘s stuff to Space Invaders. I remember there was a time when skaters were not allowed to skate anywhere. Now every city is competing to have the biggest skate park. I think cities will start paying more attention to the voices of the citizens. I’m definitely seeing this in my own work.

Many thanks to Magda for taking the time to chat with us. Watch for her upcoming art picture book on knit graffiti to be released in October 2010. Also check out her newly launched website to see more photos of her work, as well as the KnittaPlease blog. Look for her trademark knit graffiti in a city near you.

Jan 042010

San Francisco Street Art
Graffiti in San Fran’s Haight District (2007)

So what ‘s the inspiration for the Winterlude Urban Cozy Project  next month?

Throughout the years we’ve definitely been inspired by urban art/craft movements around the world and our love for cities. Here’s some examples (all the photos can be found here):

Knit It! On Parliament Hill
Knitting up around monuments and Parliament Hill in Ottawa (2005)


Ottawa Sticker Street Art: June 2009
Spotting sticker art in Ottawa (2008)


Flower Bombs at Museum of Civilization
Making textile flowers for a unique garden with Janet Morton at the Canadian Museum of Civilization (2007)

Felt Up at the World Urban Forum in Vancouver
Creating wet felt graffiti at the World Urban Forum in Vancouver (2006)

Street Art/Graffiti in Mission District, San Francisco
Graffiti in San Fran’s Mission District (2007)

Banksy's Cans Festival
Checking out Banksy’s and other graffiti artists’ work in London at the Cans Festival (2008)


Banksy’s Cans Festival
Spotting Space Invader blocks in London (and Paris, Barcelona and Amsterdam) (2007-8)

Hanging by a Thread In Berlin
Taking photos of statues and my UFOs (unfinished knitting objects) in Berlin (2005)

Hanging by a Thread In Berlin
Spotting strands of knit graffiti outside a yarn store in Mitte, Berlin (2005)

Smiling Disposal Bins in Copenhagen
Smiling Disposal Bins in Copenhagen (2008)

Street art from Portrait Gallery
Street Art from the National Portrait Gallery in Ottawa (2008)

Another inspiration? My graduate dissertation in 2008 on the topic of creative identity and the city. I interviewed Ottawa-based artists/crafters/designers and had them take photos of the city. Above is a photo taken by one of the artists I interviewed of street art from Canada’s National Portrait Gallery. You can see the rest of her photos here.

Signs of the City - Street Art in Hackney, London
Signs of the City – Street Art in Hackney, London (2008)

The method I used to collect visual information was inspired by a youth workshop, called Signs of the City – Metropolis Speaking, that I took at Space Studios in London in 2008.  The photos we took were part of a larger European initiative and were made available online and publicly displayed in Barcelona, Berlin and Sofia. It is such a fantastic project, particularly inspiring young people to make visual sense of their urban surroundings. Above is one of my photos. You can check out the rest of my photos here.

How has your city inspired you, in your daily life and in  your craft/art/music activities? I’d love to hear your thoughts!

Nov 032009


Flickr image from Julie K in Taiwan  

Can you believe it’s November already? That means planning for the holidays!

If you’re on the lookout for some gifts, decorations or other fabulous ideas to whip up for the upcoming season, check out the site Sew Mama Sew and their Handmade Holidays III series. Each day during the month of November, they’ll feature crafty + DIY ideas from around the web just in time for the holidays (but many can be whipped up any time of the year).

After browsing the site, you will definitely get inspired.

Many thanks to the ladies at Sew Mama Sew who featured one of my tutorials on November 2nd: How To Make a Stencilled Flower Vase!

Oct 282009

Pumpkin Inspiration: Hoo Hoo

I started getting  ready for the S&N Halloween Party this Thursday with this awesome owl pumpkin carved last night. It uses one larger oval pumpkin for the body and three smaller sized pumpkins for the eyes, beak and ears. (Instructions available at marthastewart.com)

Work colleagues also carved up some pumpkins to be sold to those not so pumpkin decorating- inclined, with funds going towards our workplace charity campaign. Check out this pics for some inspiration:

Pumpkin Inspiration: Ernie and Bert
Bert and Ernie

Pumpkin Inspiration: Edward Cullen
The Edward Cullen

Pumpkin Inspiration: Teeth and Tongue
Teeth and (Yam) Tongue

Pumpkin Inspiration: Scarecrow
The Scarecrow

Have you started carving yet? There’s only 2 days left – yikes! Here’s some other au courant ideas from NPR’s blog to get you inspired.