Walking around Nørrebro in Copenhagen there are many Asian shops, all of which boast a brigade of little waving cat figurines – also known as Maneki-neko. They seem so omnipresent that I suspect they are part of a Secret Danish Surveillance System – one that makes sure you only cross the street on green and pay your taxes promptly.
These felines are the exact opposite of everything “Danish Design” is reported to be, and if I had to name a Danish counterpart to a Maneki-neko it would be Kay Bojesen’s teak monkey (nearly every Danish home has one).
I like unlikely pairings – or perhaps my subconscious does – because one day as I walked past yet another window full of friendly cats, I pictured them painted with the Royal Copenhagen pattern, the quintessential floral design used on the most famous of Danish porcelain. And my brain doesn’t stop once it has had such an idea, so I had to make it real.
Update June 4, 2012: The next steps for the Goodie Monster are to find a home in a Portland area school, to make an impact at a local level directly with kids by providing a framework for eating healthily. Check out the Goodie Monster on Facebook, or contact Mark Jacobs for more information at firstname.lastname@example.org.
As part of our efforts to raise money to create more Goodie Monsters, we are offering rewards for people who support the project. This reward is a hand-made snack pouch with custom printed fabric and filled with some of the Goodie Monster’s favorite treats. Check out the campaign on Kickstarter.
The Goodie Monster Snack Pouch measures approximately 4.5×7 inches and has a gray zipper, green back and custom monster mouth front. Thanks to Allisa Jacobs for crafting each snack pouch.
Late in 2011 my friend Mark and I created the Goodie Monster, a vending machine that lives in Portland, Oregon. Placed in a Chinatown creative office building, he serves healthy snacks to building tenants and passerby’s. However, right outside the entrance to the Goldsmith building is the Church of Elvis. How was a fur-clad vending machine supposed to compete with such a spectacle? With a fuzzy come hither sign that lets people know there are tasty snacks waiting right inside. Come and get your Justin’s Nut Butters, people, and find your way using this fuzzy face to guide you.
This Monday I spent the evening participating in an event called SHARE, organized by Kathleen Lane. I was excited to be invited, meet some new people, and spend time making something that wouldn’t involve staring at a computer screen.
The format of the event involves bringing together a group of creatives, giving them a one-word prompt, and then seeing what they make over the course of 2 hours that is related to the word. At the end, each person shares what they have made in a small, intimate setting that reminded me a bit of opening presents on Christmas eve: you never know what you’re going to get next, but more importantly you’re just thankful that you’re in good company.
I arrived at 6:30 to meet some of the other participants and eat some snacks (ginger chews can be long lasting and invigorating). After a few minutes of mingling, we received our prompt word: CRASH.
Immediately I thought of a new song I had been listening to called The Balcony by The Rumour Said Fire. There is a section towards the end of the song with some cymbals and base drums crashing. CRASH, I thought. This song sounds like crashing, but with other words. With my new framework of how to approach the prompt, I started listening to the song on my iPhone to see what I would find. After a few listens I decided to focus on the lyrics that felt like “crash” to me. These are the four phrases that I picked.
0:34 – So your mouth tastes like sunshine
1:15 – And the sound of your heartache
2:43 – The sound of when your hair falls down on the pillow late at night
3:03 – This song sounds like crashing, but with other words
3:06 – So take my hands love, there’s a burst inside our minds
After choosing the four phrases, I wanted to make a visual representation of them to put in the picture frames I had brought with me. So I sketched shapes that could be easily converted into a pattern for cutting felt pieces and making abstract images. It might seem convoluted, but at the time it made perfect sense inside my head. Plus, there wasn’t really time to stop and analyze it, which is part of what makes events like these so much fun. I spend most of my waking hours questioning and analyzing, but there was no room for that tonight!
When it came my turn to share I played the song, and as each phrase came up in the song I revealed the felt art and held up a piece of paper with the lyrics written on it. The less talking that I had to do, the better! Even though I felt very awkward presenting, people seemed to enjoy it, and one woman said she became verklempt. And indeed, she did look quite verklempt. I, too, feel verklempt sometimes.
And that is how the human brain works. Mystery solved.
I did a little bit of preparation beforehand by gathering some materials to bring with me (2 hours isn’t much time to make something from scratch). My materials list included:
white paper*, black stiff paper, glue*, thin wooden rods, various scissors*, pens, brushes & acrylics, pipe cleaners, thread and needles, tape, 187 (+/-) googley eyes, 4 IKEA picture frames*, and a box full of felt*. I also had a few ideas of what I might make – a mobile, some flags, or something in a picture frame. I ended up using the items marked with a *, but my idea of making a mobile or flags flew out the window within 30 seconds of receiving the prompt.
Here are the 2 process pictures I managed to take. Otherwise I was furiously cutting felt while tapping my foot to that very catchy song.
Timing wise I spent about 25 minutes figuring out what lyrics to focus on, 25 minutes to sketch the designs I would use as patterns to cut the felt with, and 65 mintues cutting and assembling the felt pieces. Oh, and of course 5 minutes at the end to clean up my mess!
SHARE #14 participants included: New Participants
Kate Berube, illustrator/author
Meg Drinkwater, designer/maker
Erin Gardner, designer/maker
Joan Hiller, painter
Mette Hornung Rankin, designer
Liz Scott, writer
Cara Ungar-Gutierrez, out loud thinker Returning Participants
Jim Brunberg, musician
Tim Combs, artist
Trey Corkern, photographer
Kathleen Holt, writer
Giuseppe Lipari, painter/sculptor
Lorna Nakelle, painter
Leann O’Rourke, photographer
Liz Prato, writer
Nora Robertson, writer/poet
Laurence Sarrazin, designer
Mark Saltveit, comedian/palindromist
Seeing what everybody else created was fascinating; a diptych illustration of two crashes a person had been through, jewelry molds that had been mashed together, a man donning a cymbal outfit and playing a song, short stories about love & loss & finding, and man recording all sorts of sounds that he made a song out of, and last but not least a palindromist who created the singular version of the word oops – all within two hours. If you let yourself be free, interesting things will happen.
SHARE is organized by Margaret Malone and Kathleen Lane. Recaps of each SHARE event can be found on their blog.
Monster Jeff is an enigma and constantly full of contradictions – he can’t even decide what shade of brown to be! To sum this monster up I would call him sweet yet bellowing. Not many make such an effort to get their point across that one of their eyes bulges out of their furry monster forehead.
Monster Jeff measures 5.5 x 7.5 inches and was made using 39 cent felt squares, stuffed animal eyes and faux fur fabric wrapped around the back/stand portion of IKEA’s Ribba picture frame. The stand was left over from my original monster portraits, which only used the frame portion.
Monster Jen is one of my best friends, in part because she enjoys eating just as much (if not more) than I do. That’s why I gave her three mouths for all her food-recycling needs. Now she can eat, drink and talk all at once – a feat that has been sighted only occasionally in the human version.
Monster Jen measures 5.5 x 7.5 inches and was made using 39 cent felt squares, googly eyes and faux fur fabric wrapped around the back/stand portion of IKEA’s Ribba picture frame. The stand was left over from my original monster portraits, which only used the frame portion.
Monster Dan is my sister Mollie’s boyfriend, and this portrait was part of a set that I gave her as a birthday present. Dan has “always alarmed” eyes that he uses to stare down his students (he’s an English teacher) and of course a Conjunction Junction button that I bought off of eBay.
Monster Dan measures 5.5 x 7.5 inches and was made using 39 cent felt squares, googly eyes and faux fur fabric wrapped around the back/stand portion of IKEA’s Ribba picture frame. The stand was left over from my original monster portraits, which only used the frame portion.
Monster Mollie is my sister, and I made her this monster portrait for her birthday. Dark brown hair and piercing blue eyes (with an extra eye added just for good all-seeing measure) sit above her bear trap chompers. Don’t want to get in the way of those while she’s arguing or going for the last slice of pie.
Monster Mollie measures 5.5 x 7.5 inches and was made using 39 cent felt squares, stuffed animal eyes and faux fur fabric wrapped around the back/stand portion of IKEA’s Ribba picture frame. The stand was left over from my original monster portraits, which only used the frame portion.
Just in time for Halloween! Over the weekend my friend Mark and I put the finishing touches on the Goodie Monster: a vending machine filled with healthy, tasty snacks. Not only does it taste good, it looks good too. Check out the full project process and see more pictures of us sewing and painting nonstop to create a green fur-clad monster complete with a mountainous environment where pears fly south for the winter. Read more >>
I like to make things for others, and since NJ had recently received so many trophies, I thought I would make an award for the man who subsidized those trophies: Jelly. But what do you give a man who seemingly has everything? He’s won awards galore and his bookshelf is littered with treasures: a gold watch, a paper hot air balloon replica, gifts from various years of WK12, a dismembered stuffed animal squirrel, some rocks, and an empty juice bottle. It would be a tough act to follow, but I was up for the challenge.
To give a little background, my inspiration came from three places. One: Jelly’s constant quoting of Buckminster Fuller, a big-picture-thinker, the man who built geodesic domes and wrote Operating Manual for Spaceship Earth. Two: Before going to a conference to give a presentation, Jelly claimed he was nervous because previous speakers had won Pulitzer Prizes. HE hadn’t won one, and what was a veteran public speaker with lofty notions of finding your purpose to do…without a Pulitzer? And Three: At a friend’s wedding, decorations included some exquisite paper balls that I instantly wanted to filch. I didn’t take one, but another guest did.
One. Two. Three. That is how I made and presented the ONE and ONLY Fullitzer Prize to Mr. Jelly Helm. It’s a bit small and delicate, but I think its recipient will find infinite possibilities with it in his possession.
If you’d like to make a paper ball and name it something special for someone in your life, here are the instructions. My personal tip is to invest in a circular paper punch so you don’t have to cut out 20 circles by hand. I had one already from doing some wedding invites and my sketchbook project. Once you have one, you’ll want to punch circles out of everything.