Reading Spaces: Jason Reynolds

Jason Reynolds

 
 

Author Jason Reynolds can write anything — poetry, essays, movie scripts — however, his specialty happens to be Young Adult books. He is the author of several novels including: When I Was the Greatest, The Boy in the Black Suit and most recently, All American Boys. In his stories, you’ll find the nuanced lives of high schoolers in Brooklyn. Reynolds exposes their anxieties, social agendas, along with all the innocent revelations that emerge from youthfulness. His latest novel, co-written with Brendan Kiely, follows this distinct style of storytelling; intimately intricate and thought-provoking.

 

 

Although All American Boys is a work of fiction, it could have easily been pulled straight from today’s headlines. The tale is told from two different perspectives: Rashad, a black teenager who is accused of stealing and is brutally beaten by a white cop, and Quinn, a white teenager who witnessed the beating. The power of this narrative lies in the richness of the main characters, who must address issues of race, public perception, and stereotypes in their community. Reynolds and Kiely do a remarkable job of telling a compelling story about police brutality and what it means to be an American teenage boy.

 

All American Boys

 
 

Reynolds and I chatted over coffee recently — the conversation ranged from our favorite childhood books to developing a tacit understanding of how privilege informs meaning in literature. Learn what inspires the author’s writing and which books influence his outlook on the world. —Glory

 

 

 

 

What are you currently reading?

 
 

So many things, but what’s standing out the most is the fact that I’m re-reading (for the gazillionth time) James Baldwin’s, Notes Of A Native Son.

 

 

Describe yourself as a reader.

 
 

As a reader… hmmm. If the book is something I’m REALLY into language-wise, I’ll read it slowly, sometimes going over lines a few times before moving forward. But if it’s just a good story, and the language is just the mechanism to disseminate the narrative, I’ll zoom through it just to see how it all ends. Honestly, as a writer, I have to admit that I read like one, always seeing what I can learn… ahem… steal.

 

 

What specific genres do you enjoy reading?

 
 

I LOVE contemporary realistic fiction. I really admire anyone who can take the world I already live in, and make it seem fresh and surprising.

 

 

 

 

When I was the Greatest

 

 

 

Who is your favorite author of all time?

 
 

OF ALL TIME? Too hard. But, I’ll say James Baldwin is up there. But, Richard Wright’s, Black Boy is the book that changed my life. Walter Dean Myers is up there. Zora Neale Hurston. Audre Lorde. Countee Cullen. John A. Williams. Sonia Sanchez. Shakespeare. And on and on.

 

 

Tell us about your favorite childhood character.

 
 

I didn’t read much as a child. Actually, I didn’t complete any books on my own until I was seventeen. But I’ll never forget Piggy from Lord of The Flies, Scout from To Kill A Mockingbird, or Lenny from Of Mice and Men, only because they were all taught in school. But if I had to pick a character that I love now… it would have to be Esch from Jesmyn Ward’s Salvage The Bones. One of the best characters ever.

 

 

What book(s) do you find yourself recommending to friends?

 
 

Books that contain depictions of black life. I’m always pushing the multiple narratives of black people to folks because 1.) I’m proud, and 2.) because I think we (black people) are often portrayed in a hyper-distilled, limited way. We are complex, and nuanced, and… well… awesome.

 

 

 

 

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How do you decide what book to read next?

 
 

I ask my writer friends what they’re reading. Then I ask my non-writer friends what they’re reading. And if they’re reading the same things, I’ll pick up those books. Other than that, I choose by the book cover, duh.

 

 

What do you hope to teach young people in your stories?

 
 

I don’t really want to “teach” them anything. I just want them to feel cared for. That’s all.

 

 

 

 

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You can follow Jason Reynolds on Twitter.

 

The Boy in The Black Suit and All American Boys, in stores now, As Brave As You, out in May 2016!

 

Reading Spaces is a new column written by Glory Edim, where we peek into author bookshelves and personalities.

 

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An Illustrator’s Spacious Ohio Home

An Illustrator's Spacious Ohio Home

Growing up in Uzbekistan, Dinara Mirtalipova saw firsthand how cultures and styles blend beautifully. During World War 2, Uzbekistan became a refuge for people of all nationalities, including her grandmother, a Russian girl who stayed in the republic after she met Dinara’s grandfather, an Uzbek man. Dinara’s upbringing was a balance of east and west, Muslim and Christian influence. She was fascinated with the cultures from around the world her father would tell her about. Now, living in Ohio years later, Dinara blends her experience and upbringing into her stunning illustrations and into her home in Sagamore Hills.

 

Dinara, a freelance illustrator and artist, Sherzod, a computer engineer, and their 4-year-old daughter, Sabrina, moved into their home three years ago. “We fell in love with the height of the ceilings and outdoor area that is just perfect for summer tea parties. The house is in great shape, however, a few renovations wouldn’t hurt. But we are on a budget and getting things done slowly and by ourselves,” Dinara says. “It has been three years, but I feel like we are still in the process. Major renovations require big money, but I’m enjoying the process of turning something old into something new.” Dinara’s love of creating something new out of two styles is reflected in both the changes the family has made to their home and the decor within it.

 

Dinara and Sherzod’s home is a spacious, 3,000-square-foot house with large rooms, high ceilings and gorgeous light. The home was built in 1990 and has a grand, traditional sense to the architecture and features. The Mirtalipovas allowed the architecture to guide their furniture layout and design, but they incorporated subtle, modern and playful elements throughout their space. The combination of aesthetics is capped off with Dinara’s lovely illustrated prints and textiles. -Lauren

 

Photography by Dinara Mirtalipova

 

Life & Business: Monique Malcolm

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Recently, I was participating in an entrepreneur chat on Twitter, in which creatives offered their best advice on how to move forward with ideas and the strategies that helped them succeed. Monique Malcolm caught my attention with her sound advice on how to navigate from the planning stage into execution. Most creatives understand what it is to be stuck in the purgatory of procrastination, wondering if they should go forward and how to proceed.

 

 

Armed with fiery pink hair and a contagious motivational spirit, Monique Malcom provides that detailed roadmap for creatives. Her Visionary Journal is a task manager, vision board and day-planner combined, for maximum effectiveness. Its bright and exciting colors get you motivated to map out your goals in style. Her website, Keep Chasing The Stars, encourages visionaries to be free from boundaries and to make their goals a priority. Anyone with pink hair earns extra points for daring to push boundaries and completely embracing their authentic self. Check out my interview with her below. —Emerald

 

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Why did you decide to start your own business, versus work for someone else?

 

I never set out to own a business. Initially, my plan was to find a career, get semi-annual vacations and live happily ever after, employed by someone’s company. I was sold on the plan that my parents laid out for me (get good grades, go to college, get a career) and I followed it to the letter. It wasn’t until I had my first job after college that I realized how at-odds I was with the work I chose. It was creatively stifling in every sense, from dress code to my actual workload. I spent three years in the workforce before I decided to start my own business. I didn’t have a plan for anything at all, I just knew that I didn’t see myself spending 30+ years of my life working for someone else.

 

Can you remember when you first learned about your field of work? How did you discover what it was, and how did you know it was what you wanted to do?

 

There wasn’t a moment where I discovered my field of work and decided this is it. I’ve worked online continuously for the last 6+ years and my business continues to evolve to fit my strengths. I started as a crafter. Then I launched a t-shirt line. I’ve spent several years trying, testing and launching things. Every year I discover a bit more about the work that I’m best suited to do. There are a few themes that have stuck out to me over the years: I really like developing physical products, teaching, and speaking. Those things are the foundation of this version of my business.

 

What was the best piece of business advice you were given when you were starting off?

 

Just give it a try. Experience is the best teacher.

 

What was the most difficult part of starting your business?

 

Learning to manage myself. It’s so jarring to go from having a set schedule where your start time, lunch, breaks and end time are decided for you to having to figure that all out on your own. When you’re a one-woman show, the lines can blur, especially when it comes to work-life balance. So it’s important to build good self-management habits early on.

 

Can you name the biggest lesson you’ve learned in running a business?

 

I’ve learned to start with what I have. As creatives, we are our harshest critics and this can cause us to approach problems focusing solely on what we don’t have. What I’ve realized is that there isn’t a readily available solution when you are in that mindset. Your solution lies in your ability to look at what you have and figure out what type of leverage you have to get what you need. Always start with what you have.

 

Monique Malcolm Alt Summit

 

Can you name a moment of failure in your business experiences that you learned from or that helped you improve your business or the way you work?

 

I used to get really caught up in what everyone else was doing. I never kept my eyes on my own paper and constantly tried to build my business like everyone else. The problem with that is you can’t replicate someone else’s experiences and you do such a disservice to your own. It took a while to figure that out. You really have to own your quirks and oddities. There are people that will be drawn to you because of them and those are your right people.

 

If you were magically given three more hours per day, what would you do with them?

 

I definitely wouldn’t use them to do more work, I do enough already. I would use one of those hours to play more Nintendo with my son. The remaining two hours I’d spend reading (I love magical fantasy and thrillers), napping and having more sex.

 

Monique Speaking Alt Summit

 

What are the ideal conditions for you producing your best work?

 

I like to create rituals to help jumpstart my creativity. When I’m ready to get to work I light a candle, turn on some instrumental music, clear my desk, grab a notebook to jot down thoughts that come up and then set my Pomodoro timer. I spend too much time at my computer, so following that ritual signals to my brain it’s time to get to work.

 

What business books/resources (if any) would you recommend to someone starting a creative business of their own?

 

I like to read for pleasure, so I don’t read a ton of business books. There are two I highly recommend for creatives that are starting out: Do The Work by Steven Pressfield (A kick in the butt about moving past procrastination). Start With Why by Simon Sinek. (A great read about why you do what you do is more important than what you do). There are so many great, informative blogs available, my favorite being ByRegina.com. That girl is super knowledgeable and the sweetest person ever. I send everyone that is thinking about starting an online business to her site.

 

If you were stranded on an island and could only bring four items, what would they be, and why?

 

Pink hair dye and leave-in conditioner because my hair is my calling card. It needs to be fabulous. My laptop because it is the hub for my business. The entire Harry Potter book series because I’ll need some good reading material to pass the time.

 

Where do you see yourself in five years?

 

In five years, I will own a mini stationery empire that provides small business owners, bloggers, artists (basically creatives) with the tools to be successful in their creative endeavors. The Visionary Journal is just the first in a line of products designed to help people plan, dream, and scheme. I want to expand beyond day planners.

 

 

 

Before & After: An Artful Entryway in Des Moines, IA

Before & After: An Artful Entryway in Des Moines, IA

Thrift store artwork can be challenging to decorate with, especially in a home that is full of original pieces and quality prints. Creative director Nick Renkoski fell in love with a sun-damaged copy of Edward Hopper’s Early Sunday Morning that he found for $10. The original reds, greens and yellows of the painting had faded into a monotone blue palette that made the damage evident. Nick’s wife, curator and founder of Adore Your Walls, Liz Lidgett, wasn’t sure how to incorporate the piece into their space when they lived in a rental. The purchase of their first home in July 2015 inspired them to not only update their new entryway, but to use the Hopper piece creatively for both Liz and Nick to enjoy.

 

The grand architectural details of their Des Moines, IA home initially drew the couple to the house. They knew each room of the house would need some cosmetic changes to reach their full potential. “Our entryway is the first impression to our home, and I wanted it to set the tone: Fun and bold,” Liz says. “First, we had [to] repair some cosmetic age issues with the ceiling, wall and floor. We patched the crack in the tile and painted the floor.”

 

The house’s periwinkle blue exterior grew on Liz and Nick so much that they used a similar color when designing the entryway. “I painted the the walls and ceiling and created the lower half,” Liz shares. “I then hung the print, matched the line on the wall and painted across the glass in the frame.” New sconces, rug and a coatrack with the same “dipped” treatment as the walls finish the look. The result is a stylish and welcoming entryway that reflects Liz and Nick’s love of art. “Most of the time, people really love the idea,” Liz begins, “but my very favorite is when people come in and are completely confused by it. ‘Did you mean to do that?’ Yes, yes I did.” -Lauren

 

Photography by Austin Day

 

SOURCES

 
 

Rug – World Market

 
 

Paint – Bluebird by Behr

 
 

Coatrack – CB2

 
 

Sconces – IndLights, Etsy

 

 

Paper Hellebore Tutorial by Kate Alarcon

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When I had the opportunity to prepare a flower-making workshop for a Carpe Diem Collective event in Seattle, I knew the hellebore would be perfect. It grows beautifully in the Pacific Northwest, but still feels a little bit exotic and unexpected. Its subtle yet rich colors seem sophisticated in a way that struck me as ideal for the design-savvy makers whom I knew would be attending. But what was most exciting to me were the opportunities the hellebore presented to play with color and pattern. Rather than prescribing one specific variety for everyone to make, I taught several techniques, and everyone played with variations. As the new flower-makers worked, I found myself continually surprised and delighted by the varieties that sprung to life around the table.

 

 

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In that spirit, the instructions that follow demonstrate techniques for construction and for adding color and detail. I hope you’ll spend some time observing the hellebores blooming around you right now (or on Pinterest!) and combine these techniques to please your own artist’s eye. And special thanks to the women who attended the hellebore workshop and whose creativity inspired the hellebores I’ve made here. —Kate

 

 

Photos and styling by Grace Kim

 

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About Kate: Kate Alarcon makes delicate and unusual paper plants and flowers just outside Seattle. Kate chose the cobra lily — a carnivorous plant native to the West Coast — as her business name and spirit “animal” because she finds so much inspiration in its eccentric, otherworldly beauty. She takes custom orders via her website, and teaches flower-making workshops in the Pacific Northwest. You can see her newest work on Instagram @cobralilyshop.

 

 

About Grace: Grace Kim is dedicated to capturing and creating beauty and helping people live life to the fullest. You can find her work at GH Kim Photography and Carpe Diem Collective. Follow her on Instagram @graceperdiem.

 

 

 

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Supplies

 

 

For flower construction:

 

o hellebore templates (download here)

 
 

o Aleene’s Original Tacky Glue

 
 

o fine or doublette crepe paper (black, white, dark red, pinks, violets, and greens are all suitable) plus olive green to wrap the stem

 
 

o pale green or yellow florist crepe for the flower center

 
 

o 1 10-inch length of 18-gauge, cloth-covered stem wire

 
 

o paper scissors

 
 

o optional: small green or yellow millinery stamens

 

 

For adding color and detail:

 

o Copic Sketch or Ciao Markers. I find the following colors especially nice for hellebores: RV69, V15, V12, V91, YG95, and YG03, G20, 0.

 
 

o PanPastels. If I were to buy just one color for this project, it would be 430.5 Magenta, which creates a very rich, deep pink when swiped over black crepe paper. Other nice additions would be: 470.5 Violet, 930.5 Bronze, 430.1 Magenta Extra Dark, 680.3 Bright Yellow Green Shade, 640.8 Permanent Green Tint, , 340.8 Permanent Red Tint, 220.8 Hansa Yellow Tint, 520.8 Ultramarine Blue Tint, 470.8 Violet Tint

 
 

o cosmetic wedge sponge

 
 

o eye-shadow brush with a sponge-tip applicator or cotton swab

 
 

o gold gel pen

 

 

Creating the center:

 

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Image above: Each piece represents one step in the process of making the hellebore center.

 

 

Using template A, cut out a rectangle from the pale green crepe.

 

Stretch this piece against the grain, pulling out all the tiny folds so that you have a long rectangle. Fold the rectangle in half lengthwise.

 

Create a short fringe along the fold by making a row of small cuts very close together (roughly 1/16th of an inch apart).

 

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Image above: The short fringe along the fold of the rectangle.

 

 

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Image above: Rolling the center around the stem.

 

 

Using template B as a guide, cut the folded rectangle so that it tapers toward one end of the rectangle. (This will help create a smooth transition between the flower center and the stem.) Dot glue inside the fold along the whole length of the rectangle, just below the fringe. Insert the tip of your stem wire into the fold on the wider end of the rectangle just below the fringe, and use your finger to press the fold closed. Let this dry for a minute.

 

Then dot glue along one side of the rectangle beneath the fringe, and roll the rectangle up around the wire. The fringes should be even, creating a flat, circular plane at the top of your center.

 

Adding stamens:

 

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Image above: The flower on the right has millinery stamens; the middle and left, DIY paper stamens.

 

 

You can purchase double-headed millinery stamens from Castle in the Air or Rose Mille (see suppliers below). To attach, you just fold or cut them in half and glue them around your center, so that the stamen tip extends about a half inch beyond the top of your fringed center. You don’t need to be too precise about the number of stamens you add to each flower — some variation will look more natural.

 

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To make your own paper stamens, use template C to cut a small rectangle from the pale green crepe. Stretch this rectangle all the way out across the grain. Use a green marker (Copic YG 95 is perfect, but almost any type of marker is suitable for this step) to color in a very wide stripe about 1/8th inch from the top to about an inch from the bottom. If you find that the uncolored strip across the top is too wide, just trim it with your scissors.

 

 

Create a fringe across the grain by making a series of 3/4 inch cuts very close together. Then, working in small sections, gently but firmly twist these stamens together in one direction and then in the other.

 

Untwist all the stamens and use your fingers to straighten them. If they resist finger-straightening, use your scissors to very gently scrape the length of the stamens on one side and then the other.

 

Finally, scrape the tips of the stamens between your thumb and scissor blade to curl them slightly.

 

Dot glue in a zigzag along the lower half of this strip of stamens, and then wrap it around the green center, so that the tips of the stamens extend about 1/2 inch past the top of the center. (If you’d like a fuller set of stamens, use the whole strip, which should wrap around twice. For a wispier set, snip the strip of stamens after you’ve wrapped the center once, and save the other half for another flower.)

 

Insert your finger into the middle of the stamens and very gently press them outward so that they slightly lean away from the center. Gently separate any stamens that are sticking together, and touch up your curled ends if necessary. Let this center dry while you cut and color your petals.

 

For the petals:

 

A note about grain:

 

The grain of the crepe paper runs parallel to the roll or fold. Crepe paper stretches horizontally, but not vertically, so you will almost always cut petals with the grain, placing the template so that the tiny wrinkles in the paper run up and down the template, not across.

 

Use any of the petal templates to cut out five petals for each flower. I’ve included three templates so you have the option to create some variation among your hellebores, but you’ll only use one template to cut all five of the petals for each flower.

 

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Image above: Applying a “wash” of PanPastel.

 

 

The PanPastels can add details like darkened petal edges or gradient color, but I like them best for adding a “wash” of color to the whole petal, which helps to recreate the hellebore’s subtle, complex coloring. I find that an inexpensive cosmetic wedge sponge works fine for this. A cotton swab or eye shadow brush is also suitable for finer detail, like a colored edge.

 

To create the very dark hellebores, use black crepe for the petals and then gently swipe on a layer of any of the darker, richer colors. My favorite is the 430.5 Magenta.

 

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Image above: The PanPastels can add some subtlety to crepe paper colors that are a little too pure and bright to be suitable for a hellebore. Here, I’ve used a soft pink to tone down a bright violet.

 

The Copic markers can be used to add color to an entire petal, to create speckles near the petal’s base, or to darken its outer edge. You can also use multiple markers that are the same hue but different intensities to create a gradient effect, beginning with the darkest color at the base of the petal and ending with the lightest at the top edge. The colorless blender can help to blend any hard lines between the different colors.

 

For dots, just barely touch the fine tip of the marker to the petal, lifting immediately. If the dots look too stark, a very light layer of PanPastel over the top can help them “sink in” to the petal and look more natural.

 

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To color the edges, barely touch the broad tip of the marker to the very edge of the petal, rather than trying to draw a very thin line on the front of the petal.

 

Gel pens: I use a gold gel pen to add speckles to my black hellebores — I like how they add a subtle twinkle.

 

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Image above: Steps for two sample petal variations.

 

 

For the deep magenta petal, first swipe the 430.5 Magenta PanPastel over the entire black petal. Next, use a small makeup brush or cotton swab to apply 470.5 Violet PanPastel just along the edge of the petal. Then, use the gold gel pen to add dots on the bottom third of the petal.

 

For the pink petal, swipe 220.8 Hansa Yellow Tint PanPastel over the bottom third of the petal. Next, use the fine tip of Copic YG95 to add dots along the bottom of the petal. Then, use the square tip of this same marker to add color to the edge of the petal.

 

I’ve included nine other hellebore petal “recipes” at the end of the tutorial.

 

Shaping the petals:

 

To make the petals more lifelike, you can gently cup them near the base, curl them slightly by scraping them gently between your thumb and the edge of a pair of scissors, and stretch the petal edge gently to create a slight frill. Before you accidentally tear your beautifully decorated petals, practice on some blank petals to get a feel for the point at which the paper rips. It doesn’t take much shaping to mimic a hellebore petal, so you can afford to be gentle.

 

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To cup the base of the hellebore petal, hold it gently with two hands, thumbs in front, and gently stretch by pushing your thumbs slightly forward and pulling back and outward with your index fingers. Hellebore petals don’t require very deep cups.

 

 

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Frill your edge slightly by gently stretching it.

 

 

Building the flower:

 

Place the base of the petal between your thumb and the blade of your scissors, and gently scrape the underside of the bottom of the petal, so that it curls slightly. This will help the petals to lie flat, rather than standing up and covering your center.

 

Dot a small amount of glue on the base of a petal and press it against the edge of your stamen-covered center. Then do the same with the next petal, placing it to the left of and slightly behind the first petal.

 

Directly across from the point where the first two petals overlap, place your third petal.

 

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Image above: The flower on the left shows placement of the first three petals. The gaps on either side are where you’ll place your remaining two petals.

 

 

Now you’ll have a space on either side of this last petal. In the space between this petal and your first petal, place your fourth petal. In the remaining space, place your final petal.

 

Let the glue dry completely.

 

Finishing the flower:

 

Cut an 8-inch-long and 1/3″ wide strip of olive green fine crepe across the grain. Apply very small dots of glue along the length of this strip and attach it to the part of the wire that is covered by the base of your petals. With your left hand, hold the strip at a 45-degree angle to the wire and gently stretch as you twirl the wire with your right hand.

 

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Wrap to the bottom of the wire, and snip the excess strip. Gently adjust the petals and stamens if needed. But there’s no need to be too fussy — paper hellebores are at their most charming when they’re allowed to be a little bit quirky.

 

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Additional hellebore recipes:

 

Row 1:

 
 

1. Black fine crepe, a wash of 430.5 Magenta PanPastel, 930.5 Bronze PanPastel edges, gold dots, and millinery stamens.

 
 

2. Black fine crepe, a wash of 430.1 Magenta Extra Dark PanPastel, a 470.5 Violet PanPastel edge, gold dots, and paper stamens

 
 

3. Deep olive doublette crepe, 430.5 Magenta PanPastel on the bottom third of the petal, and paper stamens

 

 

Row 2:

 
 

1. Lavender doublette crepe, Copic BV01 dots and petal edging, and paper stamens (for these I used Copic RV69 to make the stamens maroon instead of green.)

 
 

2. Sangria fine crepe, 430.5 Magenta PanPastel on the bottom third of the petals, gold dots, and millinery stamens

 
 

3. Cherry fine crepe, 430.5 Magenta PanPastel on the bottom third of the petals, gold dots, and paper stamens.

 

 

Row 3:

 
 

1. Pink fine crepe, a wash of 340.8 Permanent Red Tint PanPastel, and millinery stamens

 
 

2. Pink doublette crepe, 220.8 Hansa Yellow Tint PanPastel, Copic RV69 dots, dark maroon PanPastel on the edges, and paper stamens (for these stamens, I just colored the tips with a pale yellow.)

 
 

3. White fine crape, a wash of 680.3 Bright Yellow Green Shade PanPastel, and millinery stamens.

 

 

Sources for supplies:

 

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Castle in the Air: crepe paper, stem wire, stamens

 

 

Rose Mille: crepe paper, stamens

 

Dick Blick Art Materials: PanPastels

 

Aaron Brothers: PanPastels

 

Michaels Craft Stores: 18 gauge floral wire

 

Impress Cards and Crafts: If you live in the Seattle area, Impress has crepe paper in three different weights, Aleene’s glue, and a great selection of Copic Markers and gel pens.

 

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Life & Business: Karin Matthee of Dear Rae Jewellery

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Growing up, Karin Matthee‘s idea of fun was starting fake businesses. While most kids were playing hide-and-seek, Karin was working in the shop with her dad, learning how to make jewelry and inventing companies — so it was no surprise when she launched her own in 2010. After attending Stellenbosch University where she received her BFA in jewelry and metal techniques, Karin completed a semester at the Pforzheim Hochschule in Germany. When she graduated, she was full of drive and an even greater passion for her diverse South African and German familial heritage, all of which inspired her to launch Dear Rae in 2010.

 

As someone who thrives on wearing many hats and bringing up those around her, Karin’s passion for empowering and employing local South Africans has been a driving force in the business. With help from her talented staff of South African manufacturers, all skilled in the ancient art of jewelry-making, each Dear Rae piece is designed and made by Karin in her Cape Town studio workshop. Using ethically sourced and recycled materials, every ring, necklace and bracelet is crafted from solid sterling silver and gold with a focus on simplicity and quality.

 

Her path to being a business owner may have been an obvious one, but today, Karin is joining us to share all of the things about life and business that she didn’t see coming, offering her wisdom on everything from gaining confidence to why trust and courage are business necessities. -Sabrina

 

 

 

Why did you decide to start your own business, versus work for someone else?

 

To be honest, I have never worked for someone else, so it probably is not a fair comparison. I have, however, always been naturally drawn to starting my own business. I started various small business throughout my childhood for fun. The idea of starting something from nothing and growing it into a sustainable business has always excited me, as it has a limitless sense about it. Running a business is challenging on various fronts, but I find the variation very stimulating.

 

Entrepreneurship is encouraged in South Africa, due to the lack of employment in our country. A strong driving force to starting my business was to educate, employ and empower people.

 

Can you remember when you first learned about your field of work? How did you discover what it was, and how did you know it was what you wanted to do?

 

My dad designed jewelry as a hobby, he had a small workshop next to our garage at home. When I was about 10 years old he started teaching me how to work with silver, I took to it well and loved working with metal as a medium to build 3D shapes. When it came to choosing a course at university I decided to study BA.Jewellery Design at Stellenbosch University.

 

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What was the best piece of business advice you were given when you were starting off?

 

Just start somewhere; it will grow organically and lead you into a direction that’s right for you.

 

What was the most difficult part of starting your business?

 

Gaining confidence in my designs and ideas. It felt quite intimidating putting my designs out there for the first time. It also took me a while [to] establish my whole brand identity.

 

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Can you name the biggest lesson you’ve learned in running a business?

 

I have learned the importance of employing the right people; people who are really strong in the areas where I am weak. I think it takes courage to give people the freedom to blossom and grow in your own company. Learning to not micro-manage my employees and watching them develop has been a very fulfilling part of running my own business.

 

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Can you name a moment of failure in your business experiences that you learned from or that helped you improve your business or the way you work?

 

At one stage in my business, I felt very frustrated with [the] amount of copying of designs and lack of originality in my industry. I really struggled to come up with fresh designs that were not so trend-focused, so I decided to cut off all social media and stopped browsing Pinterest for a season. This allowed me to reconnect with my inner-child creativity. I slowly started creating out of a true place that was real to me and far more original. Lately, I have been designing ranges around a theme or story that resonate with me. I find that this helps me to keep my designs fresh and interesting.

 

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If you were magically given three more hours per day, what would you do with them?

 

I would go for a long, late-afternoon surf.

 

What has been the biggest sacrifice you’ve made in starting your business?

 

Giving up a lot of personal time and energy. As a business owner I feel that I always carry quite a lot of responsibility. In one sense, I feel that I have had to sacrifice the feelings of security.

 

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Can you name your greatest success (or something you’re most proud of) in your business experiences?

 

I am very proud of setting up my own shop and studio in Woodstock, Cape Town. Our retail shop has a big window overlooking the workshop where we manufacture all our products. It allows the customer to watch the full process of how the jewelry is made; it also reassures them that everything is locally made. It is a light and lovely space that inspires people to create.

 

What business books/resources (if any) would you recommend to someone starting a creative business of their own?

 

I did a short part-time business course in the first year that I started Dear Rae. It was very helpful as it covered all the basics of business and gave me a sense of understanding around all the various aspects of running a business. It also created a platform where I could engage and share with other creative people who were also starting their own businesses. I must say that I have found having a community of entrepreneurs around me has been the most powerful resource. Books and podcasts have been helpful here and there, but nothing beats chatting and sharing with a friend who also owns a business. It can get lonely, so it is important to have that support and friendship along the way.

 

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Has failing at something or quitting ever led to success for you? Walk us through that.

 

When I first started Dear Rae, I was wholesaling my jewelry to various shops in Cape Town as an outlet to sell from. After two years of doing wholesale to boutiques, I realized that it was a better model for me to only sell my products in my own shop, so that I could make a healthy profit and control the customer experience around my brand. I made the risky decision to pull out of all my wholesale stockists and direct all the customers to my own retail shop and online store. It was super scary at first, but it slowly started to pay off. Our own retail shop is very busy now and our customers have a much stronger brand experience, they can see where the products are made, enjoy our beautiful shop display, packaging, and can engage directly with us.

 

In your opinion, what are the top three things someone should consider before starting their own business?

 

1. Do they enjoy managing people?

 

2. Are they courageous and determined?

 

3. What do they love doing in their spare time?

 

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What’s the hardest thing about being your own boss that isn’t obvious?

 

I would say the loneliness of always being responsible for oneself and others. You often have to learn a new skill on the job and act like you know what you are doing when you really don’t. You just have to trust yourself and jump in the deep end. It is a constant, steep learning curve.

 

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In SF’s Restored Smokestack at Magnolia Brewing, A Trip Back In Time

In SF's Restored Smokestack at Magnolia Brewing, A Trip Back In Time

Kevin Landwehr is a husband, father and designer living in San Francisco, CA with his wife and two children, Violet and Owen — but he is more than just a dad and one-noted creative type: he is a storyteller. His array of architectural, interior and graphic design chops give his work a broader context and better informed approach to every project he gets his hands on, and his work on Smokestack at Magnolia Brewing in Dogpatch, San Francisco is no exception.

 

“I make relatable and communicative objects and spaces,” Kevin says, a goal he strives to achieve in every project he and his partner undertake through their design studio NOTHING SOMETHING. Started in 2001 with his college roommate, best friend and longtime collaborator Devin Becker, their services may be varied — an offering which includes interiors, custom furniture, lighting, and full-service branding and custom content — but their passion for layering, asymmetric detail, craftsmanship, big palettes and an elegant, 20th-century influence defines their work. This edgy and unique perspective is only met by their hunger for a challenge.

 

When they were first presented with the opportunity to invest in Magnolia Brewing Co. to build their dream bar / restaurant, they didn’t hesitate, despite the obvious long road ahead and the fact that, at the time, they were still living and based in Brooklyn, NY. Built in 1915 and gutted in 1985, the historical space was originally a factory owned by the American Can Company, the corporation that manufactured the world’s first beer can. The space had long-ago been robbed of its character, but its potential was something Kevin and Devin saw as a great opportunity. At the time (in 2010), San Francisco’s energy was building, so Kevin uprooted his entire family and they relocated to SF at the apex of the reconstruction, saying: “San Francisco’s got some kind of magic right now and I want to spend more time with it. I feel like I have something worthwhile to contribute to this city.”

 

“We didn’t want to restore the space as it was,” Kevin describes of their approach, “we wanted to use the space to share the larger tale of the 1930s San Francisco waterfront as it applied to food, drink and culture.” In their imagination, the story of this space was going to become that of a waterfront bar, neighboring a butchery, a brewery and a can factory that froze in time. “Our concept [was] that, years after these imagined businesses all closed and boarded up, we discovered this place untouched and decrepit, knocked down the walls, chainsawed the ceilings, brought it all together and opened for business.” With this vision in mind, designing the space involved a lot of discovery and research, something they hoped would be apparent and appreciated by future customers.

 

The process took nearly three years, which was longer than Kevin anticipated, and they ran into many snags along the way. “A project like ours doesn’t fit a clear mold and the city almost pulled the plug several times,” Kevin explains. “But we pushed through, and, as we came out of the last big storm, it became clearer and clearer that our project was actually manifesting [better than] I’d imagined it.” Their can-do attitude and DIY abilities got them through failing to find furniture that fit, and even running out of floor stain: “I went to the coffee shop next door and asked for their spent grinds, which Devin and I covered the wooden floorboards with,” Kevin laughs, “they looked at us like we were crazy!” The coffee quick-fix ended up creating a beautiful, antique-looking patina, and this scrappy approach to every aspect of the project combined to result in an impressive and absolutely stunning 6,000-square-foot communal barbecue, brewery and cocktail bar — all made using the same authentic processes that would have been used had it been built in the early 1900s.

 

The build was nothing if not a huge adventure, not just for Kevin and Devin, but for their families as well. After living in a huge Victorian in San Fransisco during the process, “Devin eventually returned to his fiance in New York to plan their wedding,” Kevin explains, “…and my family and I decided to remain in San Francisco,” where, you guessed it, they are regulars at Smokestack.

 

Photography by Louis Petrucelli and Eric Wolfinger

 

Popular Sheens for Hardwood Floors

Wondering about what sheen to use for your floor? There are many different choices, depending on the look you want.

 

Gloss is the shiniest finish and and as you can see, it looks almost like the floor is wet.

 

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Semi-gloss makes the floors look polished, but not as shiny as gloss.

 

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Next is the satin, which is one of the most popular.

 

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Many manufacturers of urethanes make a gloss, semi-gloss and satin finish. Bona has different gloss levels to choose from and the two most popular that we use are satin and Extra Matte. Depending on the look you want, you can pick a sheen to compliment your room.

 

The post Popular Sheens for Hardwood Floors appeared first on Domino Hardwood Floors Blog.

Never Give Up + Best of the Web

Quote 5 - Anonymous

 
 

It’s been a long few weeks here and I’m just about done with some major work projects and so looking forward to a nice weekend break. So it feels like perfect timing to end this week with a final inspirational quote, hand-lettered by Chandan Mahimkar. I’ve loved having these ideas on the site this week. Each one got me through different moments and hurdles and this particular thought is much-needed motivation to keep pushing and moving forward, slowly by steadily. Thanks so much to Chandan for sharing these with us this week. And until Monday, best wishes for a safe and happy weekend. xo, grace

 

 

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