Author Archives: charlesprogers
Post by Laura Cheng.
If a picture is worth a thousand words, then a collage of pictures should be an indication of speechlessness. My most recent inspiration for bedroom décor is a panel of organized photos. This easy to do idea allows me to personalize my bedroom with meaningful prints. It can be accomplished by keeping three basic design principles in mind – repetition, balance, and spacing.
To get an idea of repetition, I spend a few minutes studying Andy Wahol’s 1962 Campbell’s Soup Can exhibit. Repetition means using the same size and colored frame and repeating it across an entire wall. Frames will need to be more uniform especially when various types of items are being showcased (i.e. photos AND mixed art). Even if the photos are not of the same subject or color, the mass production of the same frame will create an artistically clean and synthesized look.
Balance is another key to creating a successfully designed photo wall display. Hanging pictures in a uniform straight row or grid is the easiest way to create balance. Fold your wall in half and the frames would overlap and line up. However, frames can also be interspersed in different patterns and still have balance. It’s hard to describe balance, because part of its innate definition is subjective to what looks pleasing to the eye. Sometimes the best way to envision balance is to just grab the frames and play with the pieces. Move frames around, try different arrangements, and even go as far as taking a picture of each design. The camera does add 10 pounds, and in the end, will help determine which background is the most photogenic winner.
The last element to keep in mind is spacing. Spacing is a step sister to balance – the amount of space between each frame must be the same. Leaving approximately 1 -3 inches between each picture will give the photo collage the optimum balance.
My biggest dilemma in setting up a collage is determining what pictures to use. I’ve always believed in hanging pictures with meaning and pictures that strike a happy emotion when I look at it. It takes me time to put together such a collection. In those situations, empty picture frames with interesting woodwork can act as an appropriate substitute. T o ensure a well-collected look, I shop garage sales and thrift stores to gather an assortment of picture frames varying in sizes, shapes and textures. After removing all the gizzards, I set up the collage using the same three design principals.
Post by Mark T. Locker.
Perhaps you heard about this: in 1992, over 28,000 rubber ducks, beavers, and other bath toys were washed off a freighter at sea. For years to follow, these toys were washing up on beaches around the world. I am a huge fan of flotsam and jetsam; whenever I take a beach trip I spend half the time (at the very least!) with my head down hunting for treasures. These two books discuss, in very different ways, the lives of these little rubber toys which washed to sea.
You know Eric Carle. Even if you think you don’t, you do. His distinctive style has brought such classics at the Very Hungry Caterpillar and The Very Grumpy Ladybug. Ten Little Rubber Ducks is, according to the book jacket, inspired by the news of the wayward duckies, lost at sea. Eric Carle’s assessment of their fate is that they wandered far, and at least one is adopted by a family of real flesh-and-feather ducks. I find this highly implausible. Hands down, all kids’ favorite feature is the squeaky button on the back which sounds like—you guessed it—a rubber ducky.
Well, the title pretty much tells it all, doesn’t it? I first read this as an article in Harper’s magazine a number of years ago. Now journalist Donovan Hohn has fleshed out his fascinating story into a full-length book. If you have never thought about the secret lives of beachcombers, or the role of the ocean’s currents, or little rubber toys, it’s time you did. Donovan will tell you why.
Post by Josh Zinn.
In third grade I was assigned to peer-review a fellow classmate’s paper on horses—specifically, why she loved them and why she thought the rest of the world should care. Waxing poetically about their beautiful manes and graceful strides, she was also quite defensive about these animals’ intelligence and their ability to understand her youthful commands. Believing she had been unwisely influenced and deluded by stories like Black Beauty and The Black Stallion, I took it upon myself to snap her back to reality by defiantly scribbling on her paper, “Horses are dumb. So are you.”
Little did I know how very wrong I was…
Did you know horses are actually messengers of the gods? That their assistance to man was foretold in ancient texts buried beneath thousands of years of evolutionary progress? Or that horse whisperers have a direct equine connection with the stars? If you didn’t, well you obviously haven’t been watching the History Channel series Ancient Aliens, then!
Thanks to Ancient Aliens, we can all rest assured knowing man is not only NOT alone in the universe, but that his very destiny has been dictated by, well, ancient aliens that seeded our planet with life, technology, and Midwestern tourist attractions before disappearing into the cosmic ether. It may sound far fetched, sure, but every week experts with vague degrees and unkempt hair lay out the interstellar “facts” by excitedly waving their arms and making disparate connections that would make a Meyers-Brigg representative blush. Case in point: You may not question where the cosmically outrageous flavor combination of peanut butter and jelly originated, but someone out there with a lot of hairspray has and the answer is out of this world!
Perhaps more than anything, Ancient Aliens encourages its audience to keep an open mind about the world and to never underestimate the intelligence of the weird guy sitting next to you on the bus. Unlike yours truly, he might have known those “dumb” horses were, in fact, the guardians of this earthly realm and, accordingly, given my classmate a much better grade.
Post by Kyle St. Romain.
I recently rediscovered my interest in furniture made with reclaimed wood. I always knew I liked it, but needed a reason to rekindle that flame. My reignited interest began when my girlfriend and I started looking for a piece of furniture for the bedroom. We needed something to keep the decorative bed pillows off the floor at night. Since we have a one-year-old Pembroke Corgi who sheds his weight in fur, every night is a challenge in trying to find space for the pillows to rest off the floor and free of dog hair. My nightstand is the usual suspect, which is fine, but it leaves little room for my phone, water, wallet, and eyeglasses. We also needed something to sit on to put our shoes on in the morning, so finding this piece of furniture quickly took top priority!
Reclaimed wood is the best of many worlds, all rolled up into a single piece of furniture. What I like about most about reclaimed furniture is its history and creative elements. Case in point is this bench I found that is made from old bowling alley floor. The bench pictured below was built by John Mihovetz, who is based out of Pomona, California, and it is definitely is one of the coolest pieces of reclaimed furniture I’ve come across yet. He has a shop on Etsy, as do many reclaimed craftsmen, where you can check out some other reclaimed works of art if you’re interested.
Besides coming with an interesting story and looking great, reclaimed furniture is often built to last. Its mere existence is already a testament to the wood having withstood the test of time, which is partly due to the fact that much of the wood used in reclaimed furniture is old growth. Old growth wood has tighter grain patterns, which apart from being strong is also quite beautiful. Also, many craftsmen use welded steel as the structural elements for their furniture, bolstering its longevity.
Furniture made from reclaimed wood is also environmentally friendly. Instead of chopping down new trees to make your new side table, the materials are salvaged from existing timber that may have otherwise been slated for the landfill. Some sellers label their reclaimed furniture as “upcycled,” and that term is often used to describe furniture made from everything other than wood.
Do you have any reclaimed furniture in your home, and if so, what’s the story behind it? Or have you seen any interesting reuses of old material? Share with us in the comments below.
Post by Mark T. Locker.
As a librarian, is my solemn duty to supply and recommend books with little regard to my own personal feelings towards them. Although this is a safe space where I am free to discuss, or avoid, any books I so please, sometimes I feel a nagging obligation to bring up books that others may like, even if I hate them.
I for one do not care for trucks. Or backhoes, or steamrollers, cranes, diggers, or cement mixers. I am glad that my son, by and large, does not care for these things either. Nevertheless, we find ourselves reading the odd truck book from time to time and although they are very popular, we always walk away nonplussed. Anyway, here are two selections.
This book has been the talk of all the picture book and children’s book magazines and sites. Basically night has come and all the trucks, diggers, mixers are…going to…bed. Each animal is wished good night. That’s about it. If you or your child enjoys reading about all the different construction vehicles, this is a great choice for bedtime.
This book is sillier and funnier than the construction site book. Jon Scieszka has taken many popular nursery rhymes and rewritten them to be about characters from his popular Trucktown series. “Pop Goes the Weasel” is rewritten as “Pop Blows the Diesel” and “Peter Peter Pumpkin Eater” is now “Peter Peter Payload Eater”. Again, if you like trucks, this will definitely be fun to read. If not, it will become quickly tiresome. But hey, it’s not for me! It’s for the children!