Sunday, January 30, 2011

One of my favorite things about living in Italy,  in the mass-produced world that we live in, with the need to do things quickly and always have more, with an emphasis on quantity rather than quality,  there is still an appreciation for the handmade and superior craftsmanship that is only made possible through years of dedication, learning and a passion for creating.

I recently read a quote by Louis Nizer that says "A [wo]man who works with his hands is a laborer; a [wo]man who works with his hands and his brain is a craftsman; but a [wo]man who works with his hands and his brain and his heart is an artist."  The Italians are known for their passion. It's in everything that they do from their art to their food to their clothing and even in the way they speak, hand gestures and all. Yesterday I got a peak into a community of Florentine artists who are an excellent example of dong what they love and loving what they do. It shows just how much creativity and the artist is appreciated in the city of Florence. 

SAM Firenze is an old convent that has been converted into an art studio space.  It is a fantastic building that has turned the small 'cells' where the nuns would board into small individual studios. What that means of course is that the artist is given their privacy and own space to work but is still working amongst other artists, which is both motivating and inspiring. Even though SAM has been around for a while, there are recent efforts to promote the artists working there and gain visibility.  Yesterday was the start of a three month artisans fair that will held on the last Saturday of January, February, and March. The fair is titled Lungo un Giorno or 'For the length of a Day.' The brochure here only indicates January 29, but there will in fact be two more dates.

 The courtyard of the convent, the studios are on both levels with views into the courtyard. I could be very happy working here!

Yesterday I had a great time getting to know some of the artists and artisans and was able to snap of few shots of their fabulous work.

I love the idea of an art community. A place that supports and encourages creativity and understands the importance of the handmade as well as visual communication.  Most of the artists were happy to let me take photos of their work or of them as they were working,  so I was able to get a few action shots as well. I especially love the shots of their hands where you can physically see the years of practice that have gone into creating and perfecting each individual piece.

Enjoy! And if you are in Florence or will be in Florence on February 26 or March 26 be sure to stop by and support the local artisans.

 Some beautiful handmade pottery in the works. 

 Fantastic works in metal by Lorenzo Foglia, from jewelry  to picture frames.

Hand covered paper journals by Giulia Materia

Hand felted hats, scarves, and other joyful things to wear by Livia Sani

I really couldn't do his work justice in the photos, so here is a look at Luca Di Castri's studio

One of the coolest things I saw.  The technique is called Plissettatura .The fabric is placed in between the layers of cardboard and then press with an extremely hot iron to create the designs and fold into the fabric. 
Work is by Plissettatura Milady

I am absolutely head-over-heels in love with this black and white bag by Marakita

More great bags and jewelry by Caterina Deco' 

Fun jewelry by Vincenzo Spano'

And lets hear it for ELY.B (Eleonora Bruno) the hat lady! Fantastic. 
She doesn't have a web site yet but if your interested drop me an email and I'll send you her info, I don't want to post it for fear that she will be spamed!
And of course there are many many more talented artists worth seeing! So by and have a look, you won't be disappointed!

Thursday, January 27, 2011

When One Door Closes...

As many of you know, I have spent the last couple of years working on a little project called Bread N' Butter Designs. Mostly jewelry made from polymer clay and other found objects that I thought might make for interesting pieces.  The excitement of the work being unique and different lead me to peruse several different avenues in getting the product out into the public; such as a shop on Etsy, a few street markets and fairs here and there as well as a trip to NYC last October in hopes of launching this into something bigger.

During this last tourist season here in Florence I became so overwhelming busy with my 'day job' that the possibly of making one single piece of jewelry went entirely out the window.  I would think about it constantly and friends and customers would ask me if I had anything new to show them and the answer was always no.

So, it is not with a heavy heart, but rather a sense of new beginning that I tell you that the concept of Bread N' Butter Designs will longer exist.  I have let the domain name expire, and the blog is no longer visible, and all of my faithful facebook fans will soon receive a message telling them of the news.

But as I said, I am not sad or disappointed in any way, anzi, I am quite happy and almost feel a sense of relief and here is why; I learned A LOT from the experience.  I now realize that if you want something bad enough, you will not give up on it and you will let nothing stand in your way and if you are trying to do something simply because you need/want to make money, it is not going to work. And most importantly is that one MUST be patient. It doesn't happen over night.

Now that's not to say that I wasn't passionate about my work or the designs I was creating, but perhaps it was the creative outlet I needed for that time period.  I learned a tremendous amount about the art of jewelry design, what works and what doesn't, what sells and what doesn't. I learned about materials and techniques and a ton about photography.

I do not see this as lost time or a failed attempt at starting a design company of my own, but rather a way to move on to the next level of the process.  I will never stop designing/creating/photographing and loving all things art. I will simply be better at it the next time I try.

I see it as a relationship that didn't work out. I gave it a good honest effort, I poured my heart and soul into it and I will carry pieces of it with me in my next relationship, learn from my mistakes, accentuate the positives and create a healthier, more well-rounded affair the next time around.  I see it as a way to start fresh, with new thought and ideas.......they are already in the works, the juices are flowing and the lists are getting longer and longer. 

So for now,  as you are all probably sick of hearing about already, my new project is managing our little studio apartment as a vacation rental.  I am working to get the place looking as comfortable and inviting as possible. I get to play interior designer for a bit by adding accessories and necessities in a stylish fashionable way that will make it irresistible to anyone looking for a place to stay in the city. The beginning stages of a project like this require a lot of work, making sure everything is spotless is step one, that all the amenities are in place. Then there is the photography which,  includes not only shooting many more images than I could possibly need but also, editing each one individually and putting them up on the various different web-sites that might attract potential renters, as well as looking for places to advertise outside the internet.  Not to mention all the other details that are involved in making this work.
 But as far as art and design are concerned, I haven't gone anywhere, I'm just taking a little sabbatical.......

Thursday, January 20, 2011

A Pictures Worth a Thousand Words....

.....Or at least I hope so anyway, becasue I don't have too much to say!  I know I promised that I would be back in a day or two with more interesting content, I am afraid dear readers that I am just not feeling up to it in my current state of vegetation. My horoscope today told me that it was perfectly acceptable for me to hibernate for the next 36 hours so I am going to do exactly that! This jet-lag is seriously kicking my arse!  I tried to go to bed at a decent hour last night, I fought off the 2pm desire for a nap and hoped that this would help me get a good nights sleep. Well falling asleep wasn't a problem, it was the staying asleep! I woke up at 1:30 and that was it! I was up all night long. I was finally able to fall asleep again around 5a.m and then had to peel myself out of bed at about 10:30. Ugh!!

I did manage to get myself to the gym for a good hour so at least I'm not totally out of it!  And ya know something else? It's COLD out there, so for now, the couch, the kitty and the hubby are all I need!

I did begin to sort though the 400+ photos that I took "When in California" (and Nevada) so here's a peak at a few of my favorites.  Enjoy and I'll be back soon.

Oh and FYI for those of you that are planning a trip to Europe, be forewarned, the jet-lag is killer.

 A little Happy hour San Diego Style
We had 2 of those Margaritas each! Too good to stop at one!

And this was the sunset on our last night in California. Just down the street from Mom and Dad's
 Seriously. Beautiful

 One I will remember for a VERY long time.

Vegas Baby!!!! We had so much fun! My cheeks hurt from laughing. Great memories with my big sis.

 New York and Paris in the same night!

And another incredible California sky.

 One of my favorite things about California is the sky at dusk. The light there is amazing!
Who needs Santa when you have rainbows coming down your chimney?

Don't be Shy! Share!