(un)Fashion: Creativity and Translations

Hard to believe that the book (un)Fashion hadn’t yet made its appearance  into my house and blog until this weekend when a friend brought it to my attention.

(un)Fashion presents a kaleidoscope of people from different cultures and portrays how they dress and adorn themselves away from the fashion shows and chain stores.  It refreshingly ignores  the Western conventional view of what’s beautiful and what’s not. Tibor Kalman, one of the graphic geniuses of the 20th century and  editor-in-chief of Colors magazine and his wife, illustrator Maia Kalman created this stunning gem of a book.

Take a look:

Some of the images remind me vaguely of this book: Natural Fashion: Tribal Decoration from Africa by Hans Silvester, which I blogged about in one of my first posts back in 2010. I’ve always been fascinated by culture and its expressions through fashion, music, film, art  and language.

Right now I’m busy working with languages;  another area that fascinates me since I first learned English 35 years ago in small town Germany . Currently I’m exploring different ways and avenues how to make language learning more accessible, fun and effective using a variety of tools including technology/art/music etc. (Which, by the way is a great excuse for reading French Vogue extensively and spend time watching foreign language soap operas on Netflix.)

Trying to understand what it takes to learn a language is fun and frankly quite creative.  Creating is closely linked to the process of translating or transforming an idea into “an expression”. Without a doubt, creating and translating have a close relationship.

These days I’m in the process of re-orienting myself and re-evaluating this blog, looking into ways of making it more into a cultural exploration.

As an example, here is one interesting clip from the Indonesian version of “The X-Factor”.  The clash between the singer’s voice, her selected music, the format of the show (exported to more than 40 countries)  and her dress display exactly the kind of cultural mélange that interests me.

Once I have a clearer picture of where this exploration takes me I’ll be back.

ISBN-10: 0810992299
ISBN-13: 978-0810992290
Tibor Kalman (Author), Maira Kalman (Author)


Happy 2013

Wishing you all a peaceful, interesting, healthy and inspiring New Year!

My blogging will be irregular, because life has become very busy – in a good way!

Have a wonderful 2013 and I’ll see you here soon.


Fabric Play: Thimbles and The Lord of the Rings

Over the break during the wee hours of the morning, I watched “The Lord of the Rings” while finishing a small embroidery.  And in between, while Frodo spent hours of screen time drudging through Mordor struggling with that darn ring, I drudged through the internet and discovered these very beautiful Japanese thimbles, called yubinuki.  The whole ring theme seemed apt for this month’s fabric play.

The thimbles below are from the Kaga region of Japan, which is known for its textile work and the making of fine kimonos. In the true spirit of Mottainai, to not let anything go to waste the leftover silk threads were used to make beautifully designed thimbles like those below.

Isn’t it amazing to produce such marvelous embroidery on such a humble item as a thimble.

These thimbles are worn between the second and third knuckle on the middle finger of your stitching hand with the needle pushing against the fabric just like in the illustration below from John Marshall’s book, ‘Make Your  Own Japanese Clothes’.

Of course, I had to give that a try. I found great information with easy to follow instructions on Shishi Girl’s blog here. Of course, the Japanese versions are measured to the millimeter and mine are measured with my failing eyesight, but that’s how I like it.

The “real ones” are built and embroidered around a foundation of rice paper and silk batting, and mine are recycling t-shirts and linen, because that’s what I had on hand. I also didn’t follow the instructions, as you can see below, because mine don’t have any batting and are clearly a peasant version of a true yubinaki. Honestly, it’s even a far stretch to connect the two.

I ended up with very few thimbles, as they do require a bit of trial and error.

I specifically like these beautiful and humble vintage thimbles below found on the Wafu Works blog, a shop and enterprise specializing in vintage Japanese art and textiles. Aren’t these beautiful?

Image (c) Wafu Works

I think they are really more like jewelry. The concept would also work for making bracelets or beads…..ah, the possibilities!

Visit Nahtzugabe to see what else has been played with during this month fabric play.


This week we’ll be going to Boston to celebrate Hanukkah. I always decorate the house sparsely for the holidays, because we are mixed celebration household and I like a festive mood without big glitter. We use lots of painted pine cones, light chains and paper stars. Lots of them. Tutorials from and inspiration from past year are here and here.

However, there are two projects from fellow bloggers that are both beautiful and simple: suschna’s wonderfully Asian inspired paper globes (lampshade included) and evi’s filled paper advent calendar each with easy to follow tutorials.

I didn’t manage to create a hand-made calendar this year, but the paper stars will look good on bare branches as well. I tried one and they are great, roomy enough to hide a small treasure in them and easy enough to make a few.

I’ll see you all next week.

Golf Balls and Beer

It’s almost December and as usual, despite promising myself every year that I’m not going to let it get to me, here I am again. There is a story, that helps me create an anchor for the end of the year. It’s the story of the professor and the golf balls. A professor stood before […] Read more »

Fabric Play Date

Now that we are in the darkest time of the year,  I decided on light and shadow as this month’s fabric manipulation theme, but given my limited success, it soon morphed into a surface and texture exploration. It started small. A balloon, some wool and a combination of white glue and cornstarch to create…. a […] Read more »

“Force Majeure”, Thanksgiving and a Pizza Recipe

Yesterday, I had an adventure. The day started out like any typical busy Monday; the normal frenzy to get the lunch ready, the kid up and dressed and fed, the homework together, the instrument packed for band practice and out the door with my husband who had to trek to the next block over to […] Read more »

Hearts of Palm and Mop Toddler Suits

Monday was painting day. One of the great things about a house that has been neglected for many years is that with a bit of love and paint, it improves. It also means that a 10-year old can freely experiment with a budding sense of home improvement and color exploration. Luckily, I have a 10-year […] Read more »

Dopamine and Empathy

Yesterday night I discovered the answer on why I’m so driven to find questions and their answers on the internet; questions, that arise while looking for answers. And where did I find it? On the internet, of course. We are all addicted to information and there is a reason. Taking in and processing  information was […] Read more »


Now that the election is finally over, I can go back and finish my dining room instead of reading polls all day.  I’m still in the midst of plastering and filling holes and my ambition is to celebrate Thanksgiving in a newly painted decent dining room. Wish me luck. Election time is a reminder how […] Read more »