Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Stitching Gems just for you by Jenny Hart

Jenny Hart from Sublime Stitching shares a few gems...

Friday, December 7, 2012

A little Steam Punk couldn't hurt anyone...

Dave's latest creation with the help of the very talented pen blank artist who crafted these clock parts in resin so pen turners like Craftiness could make beautiful pens:)  It could be a wonderfully, thoughtful gift for the nerdy geek in your life;P

Thursday, November 22, 2012

I am thankful for simple pleasures....

I am thankful for opportunities to slow down....
I am thankful for my family's health....
I am thankful for my life and family....
I am thankful for opportunities to serve....
I am thankful for opportunities for adventure...
I am thankful for all that I have.....
I am thankful .......

Kasparek The Jester

Kasparek was a beloved character in a Czech puppet theater, the main comical hero in folk puppet shows.  His first appearance was around 1820.  Kasparek is extremely popular in Czech Republic as he is a good natured, cheerful Czech peasant and a court jester.  Kasparek was used in politcal satire skits during Czechloslovakia's struggle for independence from Austria.

I picked up this guy from a marionette shop in Prague while my friend was next door shopping for amber jewelry.  He is handmade in Czech Republic, hand carved out of wood.  Kasparek's signature colors are red and yellow.

Hopefully he can fend off the feline psycho that lurks in dark corners.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Riga Art Nouveau Museum

 I had the privledge of visiting Riga, Latvia with a good friend from Germany.  We had a splendid time exploring a historic city with a beautiful but tragic past.  The city is absolutely beautiful and should be on any explorers wish list.  We stayed in Old Town at The Blue Cow Hostel.  We met several travelers including an indefinite traveler from New Zealand who taught English in Japan long enough to save enough money for traveling.  Wow!  What a life.  Gunni at The Blue Cow is awesome, helpful and has a great espresso machine.  She also stocks a fridge of beverages for 1 Lat.  She has a city map ready for you as well as suggestions for the latest activities.  Thanks Gunni!

The Hostel's Great Room with TV, WIFI and computer.  This was the place to rest, warm up and meet people from around the world.  I highly recommend hostels for this reason.  You can reserve private rooms or do it cheap, dorm-style.
The kitchen with full cooking capabilities and
espresso machine.  This can save you a lot of money.  Having the ability to pick up a few items from the neighborhoods market and bringing it back to the hostel for food prep, picknicking is a great time and money saver.  You can still enjoy exploring the local cuisine like a foodie but in Europe, eating in a restaurant can be a 2-3 hour ordeal.  It's more of an experience than the utilitarian property of feeding people.  There is a lot of socializing, live music and impromptu dancing.  Definitely, slowing down and enjoying life.  This is a great experience maybe ONCE per day but having more efficient eating options is definitely a plus!  After all, there are world class museums to visit and people watching to see;)

  The view from our window:)  We had a private family room.  We ended up with two twins and a queen bed with bathroom ensuite.  It was very roomy and comfortable.  Our hostel was the third floor of one of the old Swedish Barracks.  We had a restaurant and a dining club below us.  The street we were on was very well located in Old Town.  We only had 50 feet to walk to visit basement restaurants and amber jewelry stores.
The Art Nouveau Museum-  As per their website:

Riga Art Nouveau Museum was opened on April 23rd, 2009. It is located in the apartment where the outstanding Latvian architect Konstantīns Pēkšēns (1859 – 1928) lived until 1907. 
The building was constructed in 1903 as K. Pēkšēns' private house. The project for it is the work of K. Pēkšēns himself together with Eižens Laube, then a student of architecture. The building is notable for its extremely powerful dimensions and expressive silhouette. The ornamental reliefs, craftily incorporated in the architectonic shape, feature stylized motifs from the local flora and fauna – fir needles and cones and squirrels. The building has a spiral staircase with ornamental ceiling paintings, quite possibly sketched by the prominent Latvian artist Janis Rozentāls. This Art Nouveau staircase is among the most impressive not only in Riga but also the whole of Europe. 

 The authentic interior of 1903 has been renovated in the museum. Investigation of the premises was started in 2007 when the original interior decoration was revealed and registered. Renovation works were done from 2008 to 2009 under the guidance of master renovator Gunita Čakare. 

The current display of the museum shows the characteristic furnishings of an apartment of a Riga inhabitant in the beginning of the 20th century. The author of this interior project is the architect Liesma Markova. 

As per Eat Riga Tours website:

The history of Art Nouveau.

The History of Art Nouveau goes back to the late 19th and early 20th century, with its peak spanning from between the mid 1890′s to the mid 1900′s. Known within France as Art Nouveau, Jugendstil by German speakers and Stile Liberty by Italians it swept across Europe as the latest must have fashion of its time.
Furniture, interior arts, handicrafts, ceramics, architecture, fabric design, fashion design to name a few were all influenced by this movement that took influence from the beauty of nature and the world in which we live. It would eventually spread world wide with some of the wealthiest of the Global society building ornate buildings and indulging in this fine export from Europe.
The economic boom years at the turn of the century allowed Art Nouveau to spread rapidly and with the age of industrialisation, mass produced items could infiltrate all walks of life. Art Nouveau’s early roots are often considered to have begun within the mind of a Czech artist known as Alfonse Mucha, although this is open to speculation amongst art historians. Essentially it found its home first on the streets of Paris and later spread through out Europe with many people embracing the new style, whilst many others rejected it.
Where ever Art Nouveau reached, local artists and designers would incorporate local styles and techniques to produce a movement that had its own individual taste in each country, artist and often in each city. For some, the movement had rules, for others they embraced the concept of the new age and changing times, inspired by other’s works to create their own unique style.

Charles Rennie Makintosh is a great example of this. Having made big steps within the Arts and Crafts movements so popular within the UK he stepped into the boots of the Art Nouveau movement and brought typical elements of Art Nouveau, clearly mixed with the environment found around the bustling cities and sweeping landscapes that surrounded him during his life.

Art Nouveau in Riga.

It is considered that the Art Nouveau influence reached Riga through its German influence and as it arrived, in what was then the Russian Empire it could not have received a more welcomed reception. From the late 1890′s, buildings within the style began to emerge and soon Riga become a show case city for a style.
To represent Art Nouveau (or Jugendstil as it was locally known here) through architecture required a great deal of investment in order to carry out and at this time there was no shortage of investors. Let us not forget that Riga was one of the wealthiest cities in Europe at the turn of the 19th century and with so many Merchant families ready to become Landlords within the city there was no shortage of capital.
We should also remember that until the 1860′s construction outside of the City ramparts was forbidden, except for 2 floored wooden houses. This meant that when they finally pulled the ramparts to make way for the canal and beautiful parks we see today that people were eager to leave their cramped conditions and begin to build onwards and upwards.
Much of the construction that we see today in what we call the central district dates between the 1890′s and 1910 giving us a great amount of Art Nouveau in Riga, close to 30% of all buildings within the centre, making Riga one of the top destinations in the world for this magnificent style.

Below are a few of Riga’s more well known architects from the period. With so many active at the time we have chosen those that for us stand out the most.

Eižens Laube

Born 1880 Riga, Russian empire (today Latvia) – Died 1967 Portland, Oregan, US. A Baltic German by ethnicity. He was the Chairman of the Latvian Architects Society from 1924 – 1926. After the second world war he moved to Germany where he became a professor later moving to the USA around 1950.He is considered one of the pioneers of the Riga Art Nouveau Movement and was tutored heavily whilst working for Konstantins Pēkšēns during his studies. His work is moving and impressive, many joint designs were carried out by Pēkšēns and Laube and their styles as individuals and as joint efforts can clearly be seen.

Konstantins Pēkšēns

Born 1859 Mazsalaca parish, Russian empire (today Latvia) – Died 1928 Bad Kissingen, Germany. By far one of Riga’s greatest architects he is responsible for over 250 multi leveled brick houses, as well as many great examples of wooden architecture spanning many styles. Often considered the father of National Romantic Jugendstil in Riga, his work inspires and brightens the city skyline on almost every street within the Central district. He was a member of Riga city council and also developed a plumbing company that was the largest supplier of central heating facilities all the way up to 1940.

Mikhail Eizenstein

Born 1867 St. Petersburg, Russian empire – Died 1921 Berlin, Germany. Of German Jewish and swedish decent he is one of the most well known architects whom’s work adorns the streets of Riga. His ornate Eclectic style of Art Nouveau has been the victim of the photographers flash to a point of over kill. A must see in Riga but you must know he produced as few as 19 buildings within Riga, his style becoming over flamboyant and garish. Soon this bourgeois eclectic style would be replaced with the National Romantic moment. Notably his son is also rather famous, Sergei Eizenstein, the well known Soviet film maker.

 The maid was responsible for the sewing of the household.
 Indoor plumbing such as this was advanced technology of the day and enjoyed by Peksens family at the time.  Nice chamber pots;P
 The dining room was dressed to impress.

The bedrooms are small per square footage but the ceilings are high so they don't feel small.
Families in Europe inherit their furnishings so china cabinets such as this may contain a couple of hundred years worth of dinner ware.

Oh my! One of the locals?

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

These ain't your Big Box Doors

Europeans take their door aesthetics very seriously.

This one Hitler used.