Jewelry Board DIY

Hi everyone! Before I leave tonight (tonight! TONIGHT!) for Amsterdam, I thought I would post a quick DIY about a craft I made a while ago. I made it before I even created CanvasAndCrumpets, which is why I never thought to write about it before. But it’s an item that has stayed with me through three years of university, and never fails to impress all who walk into my room. ( “Oh my God did you make that?” is probably my favorite sentence in the english language ).

That item, ladies and gentlemen, is a jewelry board.

jewlery board

The best thing about having a jewelry board is that you can see everything you own. I actually have two of these, and they house all my gems and baubles that come up with me to Tufts each year. They also take up very little space, as opposed to so many of the unwieldy boxes that used to crowd my bureau. Here’s a DIY to show you how to streamline your collection into a beautiful display:

Materials

-Sand paper

-Exacto knife

-Ruler

-Plain wooden frame(s)

-Cork board that is bigger than the frame(s)

-White paint

-Gloss clear acrylic coating

-Wood glue

-Tons of newspapers (this is a messy project)

-Heavy books

-Thumbtacks (not the round head kind, but the kind that extend outwards)

-A pile of jewelry

Instructions

Step 1: Lay out a ton of newspapers and put some Billy Joel on Spotify.

Step 1: Sand the frame until it is soft and smooth.

Step 2: Paint the frame and a piece of cork board with two coats of acrylic paint. Let dry for an hour between coats.

Step 3: When dry, coat the frame with a clear glossy acrylic coating. Let dry overnight.

Step 4: Flip your frame onto its back. Measure the length and width not of the frame itself, but the picture that is meant to go inside. You can also measure the cheesy stock photo that probably comes inside your frame.

Step 5: Trace a rectangle onto a piece of cork board with the measurements you have just found.  Cut this rectangle out using an exacto knife. Try not to cut off your fingers. 😀

Step 6: Smear wood glue all over the inside of the frame. Fit the cork board on top. It should fit as if you are putting a picture inside the frame.

Step 7: Place some heavy book on top to keep the frame and cork together while the glue dries. Let dry at least overnight.

Step 8: Turn your frame over. It should be completely connected the cork. Start putting in thumbtacks where you would like to hang jewlery. The nice thing about this is you can hang the tacks wherever you want- super high to accommodate a long necklace, or really close together if you have a  ton of short earrings.

Now, I was content to simply lean my frames against the wall, on top of my bureau. Freshman year I put a few small, pretty boxes in front to keep it weighted properly. Other suggestions include: buying an iron frame holder that can support the weight of your jewelry, or attaching a hook to the top of the wooden frame so that it can be hung on a wall. Perhaps when I graduate and am allowed to drill nails in my walls, I will do the same. On the other hand, next year I may make a whole new jewelry hanging contraption! Stay tuned…

 

xoxo, Chloe ❤

 

 

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Travel Journal DIY

Tomorrow I leave for my spring semester in Amsterdam. I’m so excited I spent all of yesterday decorating supplies for me to use abroad. I covered my laptop charger and phone charger in red glitter tape, created my very own planners from index card rings, and decorated two travel journals. (For when the first one runs out!)

Decorating your journal is a very personal process. I can’t tell you how you ought to decorate, but what I can do is give you a few ideas, and show you some technical tricks that will make your travel journal look professionally made! Here is a step-by-step guide to making a travel journal, with mine as a template.

Materials:

-Two lined notebooks. Mine are Staples brand, made from biodegradable materials. I chose them because they had a blank brown cover and they are eco-friendly!

-Black and white ink pads.

-Black construction paper.

-Alphabet stamps.

-2 sets of alphabet stickers. One of mine was printed with a map design and the other was shiny and gold.

-Scrapbooking paper printed with maps.

-Scissors.

-Wooden tags.

-White fake flowers.

-Black sticky gemstones. Be careful to buy ones that come with a sticky film on the back because it is very tricky to glue down tiny, unsticky rhinestones!

-Vintage decal.

-Tape

-Elmer’s Glue

-Thin foam brush.

Instructions for Book 1

Step 1: Rub the surface of the white ink pad onto the book cover in a circular motion. Stop when the cover is saturated to your liking.

Step 2: Stick map alphabet stickers onto black construction paper. Cut around each letter.

Step 3: Arrange each rectangle/letter onto the cover in a way that pleases you. Adhere with elmer’s glue or tape. Tape is less messy, but does erode over time. Glue dries clear, so messiness is often temporary. I like to use a thin foam brush to apply glue because it keeps it allows me to apply only a fine layer of glue.

Step 4: Brush the edges of your decal (mine was a vintage cut-out of a clock) against the black ink pad to dye the edges black. I like to apply harder pressure on the edges and lighten the pressure as I moved the pad inwards. This creates a nice ombre effect.

Step 5: Adhere a white flower to the center of the decal with glue. Then, cut a black rhinestone from a pack and adhere it to the center of the flower.

Ta-da! That is how I made my first book.

 

Instructions for Book 2

Step 1: Rub the surface of the black ink pad onto the book cover in a circular motion. Stop when the cover is saturated to your liking.

Step 2: Stamp alphabet stamps onto black construction paper with the white ink pad. Apply light-medium pressure so that you don’t get excess white residue onto the paper. Cut around each letter.

Step 3: Arrange each rectangle/letter onto the cover in a way that pleases you. Again, glue or tape work fine. Scrapbooking sticky tabs work as well, I just didn’t have any left!

Step 4: Cut out a rectangle from the map-printed scrapbooking paper. Adhere to the cover with tape or glue.

Step 5: Stick gold alphabet stickers onto a wooden tag.

Step 6: Brush the edges of the tag against the black ink pad to stain it black. Again, hard pressure on the edges and lighter pressure towards the middle creates a nice gradually lightening effect.

Step 7: Adhere the tag on top of the scrapbooking paper using glue.

Voila. Complete.

 

As you can see, it’s not that difficult to decorate a travel journal. Small touches go a long way. Placing stickers/stamped letters on top of construction paper makes them pop. Staining the edges of a tag or a decal with ink makes the book look more multidimensional. Keeping to a color scheme and repurposing motifs will help your books look like they are part of the same collection. I used maps, for example, in both the alphabet letters of the first book and the background of the second book.

I can’t wait to show you guys the INSIDE of these books once I start filling them out. I use books like these to write poems and journal entires, and paste business cards, ticket stubs, and all kinds of travel memorabilia.

Until next time (tot de volgende keer)!

xoxo,

 

Chloe ❤

 

 

Why Is Art Cool Again?

If you have visited a museum or gallery lately, you probably noticed the hordes of young people snapping photos. And I don’t mean the crowds peering at the Mona Lisa at the Lourve. My instagram feed is filled with pictures of girls wearing leather, staring pensively at paintings by Rothko and LeWitt. I am guilty of posting similar photos, but at times it seems that these photos are as carefully constructed as paintings themselves. How did museum and gallery-hopping become a hobby of the “cool” kids again?

Art is relatively accessible. One can go to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, pay a *recommended* price and see thousands of years worth of art. But easy access does not equate to understanding. I first learned about art from my Grandmother, who showed me that taking a step back from an impressionist painting turns tiny specks into a picture. But what if you don’t have a Pissarro-obsessed Grandmother to explain what you’re seeing? Art becomes a distant, confusing concept—something that requires a set of skills to comprehend. A schism forms between those who are in the know, and those who are not.

The ranks of the elite have long validated the institution of art. Once an artist has been deemed “acceptable”—whether to hang works in the 19th-century Salon or one of today’s prestigious art fairs—they can sell artwork for millions. With that tradition, art has naturally been considered highbrow in western culture for several centuries.

So why has art become cool again? Because social media makes it easier for us to present ourselves as sophisticated. By instagramming a photo at an exhibit, an individual associates himself with wealth, taste, and intellect, and implies that he has the emotional depth to find meaning in art.  Social media sites have become platforms for self-promotion. Your online presence is a testament to your personality. When you post a picture at an exhibit, it signifies that, in addition to your brunch habit and penchant for sunsets, you are cultured.

But this is only one piece of the puzzle. The way we present our identities has changed in the last ten years, but we must also examine how art has caught up with youth culture. It was close in the days of Studio 54, when Andy Warhol and Salvador Dali, superstars of the 20th-century, made appearances amongst the glitter-soaked masses. Today, art and youth culture are so intertwined that you don’t have to be someone to be in the know.

When I think about today’s youth culture, I think about social justice. Not a day goes by that I don’t read and think about rape culture, the discourse between pro-Israel and pro-Palestine groups on campus, and the poetry of my black classmates, who use spoken word to get the world’s attention. Art has finally recognized that social justice is the concern of our generation.

Museums and galleries are displaying more art by people of color, trans artists, and women. Last winter, one of my favorite exhibits was the Greer Lankton retrospective, LOVE ME, at Participant Inc.  Lankton, an influential trans artist who swept NYC in the 1980s, is famous for her fascination with anatomy and dismembered dolls. Her artwork explored the trans experience in a way that mainstream art never had before. These are the experiences that our generation wants heard. One retrospective is not enough, but it is an important step in the right direction. Art has become cool again because it is finally listening to the demands of our generation, and rewarding diverse artists who speak honestly about what being alive means to them.

In addition to being adamant about social change, today’s youth itches to be involved. No longer are consumers just consumers—they are artists, art critics, and YouTube vloggers, eager to be a part of the artistic experience. Conveniently, art has become increasingly participatory. This past summer’s Give Me Love, Yayoi Kusama’s exhibit at David Zwirner Gallery, invited visitors to cover the interior of a furnished house on tenth-avenue with colorful circular stickers. By the send of the summer, the entire space was a splash of vibrant hues. The work was partially inspired by Kusama’s own mental illness, and was a reflection on how mania affects artistic production.

What made Give Me Love so popular? The exhibit was inclusive. It welcomed visitors into its space without demanding background art history knowledge. It allowed people to put on that air of “artistic intellect.” But it was also a ton of fun. For a moment, it felt like the posh art world put its feet up on the coffee table and relaxed.

Yet it all comes back to the photo op. By posting pictures of contemporary art, today’s young consumers align themselves with art’s intelligent, well-bred associations, and paint themselves as socially active.  Sharing an image like Kusama’s Give Me Love, that was a commentary on mental illness, speaks to the sharer’s values and beliefs. It is interesting to see how art has become a means for individuals to say something to the world about themselves.

Is this a good thing? There are two sides to the canvas.  On one hand, art has become cool again because it is a useful tool for people to build their public personas: artistic, smart, cultured, well bred, socially aware, and socially active. From this lens, art has flooded the mainstream because society is inherently self-centered. But on the other hand, art has become cool again because social media is making it easier for people to share this new wave of socially and politically charged art, as well as art people have helped create.

Or maybe it’s a combination of the two. I think that art has become cool again because people—inherently a little self-centered, but also deeply caring and creative—want to share important art with the world while showing off their best and most attractive self. I don’t think Warhol would disagree.

 

Until next time!

xoxo, Chloe ❤

 

 

The Power of Pictures: Early Soviet Photography, Early Soviet Film (The Jewish Museum- NYC)

Hey everyone! It’s been a while since I last posted. It was a busy semester, and I didn’t have a ton of time to be visiting museums and blogging. But (Thank God) I’m back in NYC until January 22nd and will be visiting a ton of museums and galleries until then. I will also be making a much-needed trip to Michaels for some art supplies… DIYs to come. And then, on the 22nd, I’m flying to Amsterdam for my spring semester! I can’t wait to see the Rijksmuseum, the Vincent Van Gogh Museum, and the vibrant contemporary art scene in the Netherlands.

This past weekend I visited the Jewish Museum with my family. The Jewish Museum is one of my favorite museums and I finally bought a museum membership. There’s always a ton of events going on there, including the New York Jewish Film Festival, running from January 13th-26th. Read more about the program here.

I spent several hours at the museum exploring the masterful exhibit, “The Power of Pictures: Early Soviet Photography, Early Soviet Film.” The exhibit first traces the innovations of photojournalists directly following the Russian Revolution, at a time when the avant-garde was heralded as the manifestation of radical politics. When Joseph Stalin gained power, he strove to eliminate independent artistic styles, and unify artistic production under socialist ideals. “The Power of Pictures” details this shift.

“The Power of Pictures” allows viewers to peer into a particular window of history through the unique lens of photojournalism. It makes the viewer feel both separate from and directly connected to the early years of the Soviet Union. Below are a series of highlights from the exhibition that I feel best encompass its historical and emotional themes.

* * *

The first gelatin silver print was taken by Georgy Petrusov in 1933. It is entitled “Caricature of Rodchenko.”

IMG_3830

Petrusov employed double-exposure techniques to superimpose the profile of Rodchenko, Petrusov’s contemporary, on an image of Rodchenko’s head. The result is disorienting. Looking at the work is an experience of oscillating between the bald head and the focused profile. These parts do not stay locked in place. Is the profile part of the foreground or the background? Which image is in front of which? Are we meant to see these images as equal to one another, or is some sort of hierarchy being established?

“Caricature of Rodchenko” reflects Petrusov’s progressive, avant-garde style. He experimented with innovative photographic techniques to create images that startled and haunted the viewer. This innovative portrait also reflects the ideology of its subject, the artist Alexander Rodchenko, who, like Petrsuov, was known for his radical photography. “Caricature of Rodchenko” took the genre of portraiture and modernized it, allowing the viewer to see multiple angles of the sitter and form a more nuanced impression of him.

Petrusov’s work mirrors the atmosphere of the early Soviet Union before Stalin standardized the field of art. During these years, it was common for artists to carve out their own niche. This emphasis on personal style echoed the positive feelings towards radicalism in the late 1920s.

* * *

“Stairs,” by Alexander Rodchenko (1929-1930) is another example of early Soviet avant-garde photojournalism.

IMG_3832

This photograph, taken by the subject of the previous print, was shot at a plaza in Moscow. Rodchenko aimed his camera high above the subjects, and turned it along a diagonal. The result is an organized, geometric print whose focus is not actually the anonymous people strolling across the steps, but the play of light on pavement. The repetitive, even spacing of sepia stone and shadow evokes a sensation of calmness. For the viewer, the experience of gazing at this photograph is one of serenity. This is fascinating, given that Rodchenko was the founder of constructivism, a school of thought that believed geometry and design had emotional and societal effects. A photograph such as this was meant to instill tranquility in the viewer, and the people as a whole. The desire to calm viewers was directly related to the interests of the Soviet Union, who wanted to reassure people of the stability of the new state, despite its turbulent beginnings. The emphasis on line in this photograph is emblematic of its importance in photography during the late 1920s. Line served as a visual cue for order.

* * *

“Red Army Marching in the Snow” is one of my favorite images from the exhibit. It was photographed by Arkady Shaikhet in 1927 or 1928, and depicts the Red Army- who supported Bolshevik Socialism- performing military training.

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Light plays as great a role in the construction of the final image here as it did in “Stairs.” Sunlight streams through the trees at equal intervals between the skiing soldiers. The effect is similarly calming. Both nature and geometry evoke a sedative response from the viewer. This photograph is evidently the work of post-revolution radicalism for several reasons. Firstly, it elevates the status of the Red Army while assuring viewers of the soldiers’ capability. At the same time, it bears the distinctive mark of an individual artist who has framed the scene in an innovative and meaningful way.

* * *

“New Building from Above,” by Georgy Petrusov (1930) and “Pouring Steel,” by Boris Ignatovich (1938) are examples of early Soviet photography aimed at glorifying the new state.

IMG_3837 IMG_3844

Skyscrapers and industrial machines were symbols of Soviet progress. The way they were photographed emphasized this relationship. The building on the left, the headquarters of the House of State industries in Kharkov, Ukraine, was photographed from above, on a diagonal. This angle made the building appear massive and looming, while drawing the viewer’s eye to the constructivist structure’s geometry. Rows of rectangular windows seem to extent downwards infinitely. The top of the building is out of frame, suggesting that it might continue upwards forever as well. These framing tactics demonstrate the architectural prowess of the Soviet Union, which is directly connected to its power and stability.

The image on the right is of a steel-manufacturing factory. Most of the image is very dark. It is difficult to see what lies beneath the shower of glowing sparks and the background is too dark to make sense of. The cylindrical machine in the foreground is large and black. Even the tiny person controlling the machine is barely illuminated. The success of the photograph is in the contrast between light and dark, which emphasizes the industrial might of the machine, and transitively, the Soviet Union as a whole.

“New Building From Above,” which was taken in 1930, still bears witness to the earlier, avant-garde style that was popularized after the Russian revolution. It was taken from a strange angle, and though it glorifies the New State, it self-consciously refers to the individuality of its maker. The imprint of the artist is present in the unique angle and play with shadows. “Pouring Steel” was painted eight years later. By this point, Stalin had adopted uniformly staged photography as the national style. “Pouring Steel” represents this shift. It was photographed frontally, and mostly eclipsed the individual controlling the machine. His identity is important only in that he is a hardworking soviet man, contributing to the success of the state. Machines, factories, and public works were emblems of the utopian identity claimed by the Soviet Union. Their depiction helped Stalin paint the Soviet Union as an emerging economic power.

* * *

“Lunch in the Fields,” by Georgy Petrusov (1934) is an excellent example of the propagandistic photography adopted during Stalin’s rise to power.

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“Lunch in the Fields” illustrates life in the collective farms of the Soviet Union as peaceful and prosperous. Farmers sit together in harmonious circles while animals graze freely around them. The sky is bright and the land appears to stretch for miles before it reaches the horizon. The faces of the people are too far away to make out- in such a way they lose their individuality and become emblematic of the state. They are symbols of the peace and success of socialism. This photograph was taken straight-on, without any indication of personal artistic style. The scene has been staged, but for propagandistic, not stylistic, purposes. It is fascinating to see how Georgy Petrusov’s work reflects the changing culture of soviet photography. This photograph was only taken a year after “Caricature of Rodchenko,” but Petrusov’s personal touch has been almost entirely erased. The fact that the artist produced such different images in a two-year period does not indicate that artistic tides shifted so rapidly. Rather, it demonstrates photojournalism’s gradual shift away from individual style and towards a uniform socialist style. The mid 1930s witnessed an overlap between the two while the shift was underway. It became less and less feasible for photographers like Petrusov to print works like “Caricature of Rodchenko” as the 1930s wore on.  Towards the end of the decade, images like “Pouring Steel” were the norm.

* * *

“Women First!” by Alexander Rodchenko, (1934) exemplifies how human subjects were treated in the socialist artistic style.

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The women are lined up geometrically, though the frame is off-center. The shadows formed by the women’s bodies are almost identical. The women are not overly-sexualized, though their clothing reveals them to be physically fit. Despite the large number of human figures, their faces are still obscured by several tactics. The woman facing the viewer is far enough back that one cannot make out her face clearly. Furthermore, a thick shadow encompasses half of her face. The remaining women lining up on the viewer’s right conveniently have their faces turned away from the camera. The result is puzzling. We are given a large number of human body’s in relatively close proximity to the viewer, and yet we still know virtually nothing about them. They remain anonymous symbols of the soviet state. One can see Rodchenko restraining himself from more avant-garde techniques (which actually got him in trouble several years before this was taken). He gets away with the off-kilter framing and the particular use of geometry because of how well he avoided the identification of his subjects.

* * *

It was very difficult to choose photographs to discuss for this post. I only talked about seven photographs when there were at least fifty more at the Jewish Museum, all haunting, whether they were part of the avant-garde or socialist movements. ” The Power of Pictures”also included movie posters and a soviet propaganda film, but I wanted to focus this post on the photographs because they told such a linear story.

What is so unique about this exhibition is its ability to analyze the rise of Stalin in a methodical, chronological way, purely through the use of images. I found the audio guide to be a very concise yet thorough companion (downloadable for free from the app store), but the exhibit was curated so well that it stood on its own. Very rarely do I feel like I come away from an exhibit feeling like I have learned something so solid and compact. Of course it is wonderful to exit with questions, and I have many, but “The Power of Pictures” anticipated so many of the questions that arose inside me as I studied each picture and answered them soon after.

“The Power of Pictures: Early Soviet Photography, Early Soviet Film” is open through February 7th. Make a point to see this exhibit while you can. It is truly fascinating.

 

Until next time!

 

xoxo, Chloe ❤