Sea cyanotypes from the NYPL archive

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One of our favorite sources of inspiration is the New York Public Library archives. They have an incredible digital anthology of hundreds of thousands of images from the library's collection. 

We've recently been mooning over these beautiful prints from Photographs of British Algae: Cyanotype Impressions. The book was published in the mid 1800's when seaweed collecting was all the rage. Aren't the watery blues and delicate shapes amazing?

Here's a fascinating article, if you'd like to read more. 

A New Favorite Podcast: After the Jump

You may recall from this post that we love a good podcast. Lately we've been enjoying After the Jump, the radio program of Design*Sponge founder Grace Bonney. Every Wednesday, she interviews guests from the creative community about design, business, and personal growth. We love her candor and good humor and always learn something interesting. A few favorite episodes: Russ and Daughters Brand UpdateHandmade Design, and Inspiration

image via Design*Sponge

Paper Flowers Craft Day

A few weeks ago, we had an office craft day and made paper flowers (you may have noticed a sneak peek on our facebook). Don't they look dreamy? 

We took inspiration from Paper to Petal and The House that Lars Built and then let our imaginations take over. Once we got into a rhythm, it was surprisingly simple to make a bunch of blooms. We're already dreaming up new techniques and a big TTH style bouquet!

A visit to the Met

We recently visited the Metropolitan Museum of Art to see the Gary Winogrand retrospective.

Winogrand was an iconic American photographer and one of the most prolific artists in history. His subject matter was American life, particularly documenting the shifting cultural and political climate of the 1960's and 70's. His images are brimming with life, humor, and a sense of investigation -- he called himself "a student of America." 

An obsessive artist, Winogand would shoot hundreds of pictures each day and at his untimely death left behind a whopping 6,600 unreviewed rolls of film! The show features an array of previously unpublished images and some personal artifacts. If you're in town, we highly recommend a visit.

image via the Met

the New Yorker à la Paris

Kirby was recently in Paris and brought back the most charming souvenir -- a pair of La Parisianer prints.

Le Parisianer is a fictitious twist on the New Yorker. Last year, graphic designers Aurélie Pollet and Michael Prigent invited 100 artists to each create a cover for the imaginary magazine. The result is a keen, playful, romantic take on life in contemporary Paris.

The collection debuted at the Galerie de la Cité Internationale des Art in December and sold out within hours! Lucky for us, they complied the images into a book and released a set of art prints. 

images via La Boite Verta

An Unconventional Atelier

Kirby is in Paris this week, which has the rest of us thinking of France. We found this little series of videos about Petite H, the dreamy workshop of Pascale Mussard (great-great-great-granddaughter of founder Thierry Hermès). Pascal rescues imperfect and prototype pieces from the Hermès factory and turns them into whimsical, one of a kind curiosities. Aren't they delightful? We love seeing such an established fashion house think creatively about reducing waste.

(found via Agnes Baddoo)

Tea Time

Rose Green tea and gooseberries for an afternoon snack

Rose Green tea and gooseberries for an afternoon snack

New York is starting to get steamy, which means that our refreshing beverage search has begun in full force! Kirby's neighbor, a Tokyo native, clued her into the wonderful unsweetened teas from Ito En.

Ito En is the most popular brand of iced tea in Japan. We've noticed them under the name Tea's Tea in our local bodega. The entire range of flavors is delightful, but our current favorites are Rose Green and Green Jasmine. Perfect for a stimulating afternoon sip!

What are some of your favorite ways to stay cool?

Drawing the line

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A new artist on our radar is Ben Butler.  He creates complex, beautiful images using hundreds of finely drawn lines. We like how elemental the drawings are, each constructed with the simple building block of a thin line. New lines are added, converge and build into an organic mass. At times these masses resemble a cloud, a net, a topographic map, or maybe a thought.

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The images feel orderly and random at the same time. Some remind us of an undulating sea, calm but brimming with potential energy. Take a look through his website to see more.

images via Ben Butler

Black Magic

During Staycation week, Kirby picked up a package of activated charcoal from the shop at the Noguchi Museum. Since then, our interest has been piqued about this incredible natural purifier.

People have known about the detoxifying properties of charcoal for thousands of years. Ancient Hindus used it to purify their drinking water and Egyptians found a variety of medical uses.

Modern activated charcoal is carbon that has been heated to super high temperatures, creating thousands of tiny internal pores. These crevices trap undesirable odors, dyes, oils, metals, and chemicals. If you have a water purifier, you’re probably already familiar with how much better tap water tastes after a run through the filter. 

Activated carbon can also be incorporated into your beauty routine. Charcoal masks sop up excess oil and leave you with a fresh, glowing complexion. Recently, we’ve been eying the carbon infused scrub towels and toothbrushes from the fabulous Japanese shop, Rikumo. Links to a few favorites below.

1. Cube Air Purifier 2. Cleansing Mask 3. Body Scrub Towel 4. Facial Soap 5. Charcoal Toothbrush 6. Loose Charcoal

 

 

Wax Poetic

We were recently introduced to the beautiful work of Betsy Eby and were lucky enough to see a couple of pieces during a visit to Winston Wachter gallery. 

Inspired by antiquity funerary portraits and traditional Japanese landscapes, Eby creates meditative field paintings using tinted beeswax. This method of painting, known as encaustic, involves a heated concoction of natural wax and dammar resin. The viscous mix is melted and mixed with pigment, and then applied to the canvas using brushes and various palette knives. Layers of wax are built up on the surface until the composition is just right. Then Eby uses a blowtorch to smooth and set the painting. (This video shows her in action -- pretty amazing!)

Her works are abstract but look a bit like hazy florals. The surfaces are smooth and shinny, like sheets of ice on a frozen lake. She says that she's drawn to marble, parchment, and alabaster, which makes perfect sense when you see her milky paintings.

The works are dazzling in person -- definitely worth a visit to the gallery if you have the opportunity!

All photos from Betsy Eby

Simplicity in Spain

We're charmed by the pretty wares at Spanish shop Lua Nord. They are focused on simple home pieces made from natural materials. Lots of warm woods, creamy white porcelain, and stone colored linens. Even their motto, "enjoy the little things," is Petite Alma approved!

A few of our favorites...

a geometric wooden candle holder 

wood and acrylic glass necklace to wear with a simple tee

puff classic for lounging in a sunny spot

triangle decals to jazz up our studio walls

a minimalist bulb table lamp

the teeny tiny origami brooch

 

A Fine Line

On the third floor of a charming old building on Soho’s Greene Street you’ll find one of New York’s most interesting new shops. Somewhere between a showroom and a gallery, The Apartment is the physical incarnation of e-commerce retailer, The Line. Founded by two stylists, Vanessa Traina and Morgan Wendelborn, the Line belongs to a new breed of luxury purveyors. Classic shapes, high quality materials and a totally modern point of view define the collection, which is presented in the light filled loft on Greene.

The Apartment is just that – an expertly edited collection of goods (from fashion, beauty, home and art) presented in situ. Every single item – from the Reed Krakoff blouse to the toothpaste – is for sale. A fun shopping experience for sure, but the real genius of the Apartment is that it creates meaning through association. The elegant stitching on a jacket becomes all of the more impressive when displayed next to a hand hewn wooden table.

Traina and Wendelborn define their vision as “the search for refined, versatile, and honest goods.” We can’t wait to see what they find next!

Staycation week - Noguchi Museum

Many of the gals in our studio have April birthdays, so a celebratory lunch was clearly in order. We met up a the Queens Kickshaw on the recommendation of Alice Gao and her brilliant blog. The space was long and cozy, with simple food (specializing in unique grilled cheese combos) and a relaxed atmosphere . 

After lunch, we took a brief stroll in the sun to the museum of Japanese-American artist Isamu Noguchi. Famous for his Akari Light Sculptures and collaborations with furniture company Henry Miller, Noguchi was a high modernist with a broad body of work.

The collection featured many of his stone pieces: organic forms with contrasting smooth and rough textures or alternating segments colored rock fit seamlessly together. Some had hand hewn bases topped with geometrically carved stones. Fluid and lyrical, Noguchi's work adorned sets for Martha Graham's dance company and the homes of many design enthusiasts. Our own designer hearts were fluttering! 

The museum, which Noguchi constructed in the mid 1980s, is a serene and contemplative space. The combination of indoor and outdoor areas, including a small garden, made it the perfect spot to get inspired on a warm spring day! 

Staycation Week - Cupping at Toby's Estate

Last week was Staycation week at Petite Alma! In the sprit of spring, we are got out of the office and explored interesting spots around town.

One morning we headed to Toby's Estate in Williamsburg to learn the basics of coffee cupping. Similar to a wine tasting, a cupping is a way to compare varieties of coffee. We sniffed and slurped our way through four different samples, picking out hints of lemon, chocolate and wet leaves. Our friendly instructor, Mike, gave us the skinny on espresso drinks and answered our home brew questions. 

After the cupping, we lounged in Toby's bright, cozy space and enjoyed soy cortados and single origin pour overs. 

Next up, the Noguchi Museum.

image via Brooklyn Magazine

Podcasts from Here's the Thing

As of late, I've been a little obsessed with Alec Baldwin's podcast series, Here's the Thing, on WNYC.  He interviews artists, policy makers and performers in a laid back, funny and natural way. Some favorites were interviews with Brian Williams, Lena Dunham and in particular Andrew McCarthy.  Each podcast is about 45 minutes, so they are great to take on a walk or to listen to while cooking dinner!

Good taste and hard work

We've always liked Ira Glass's "The Gap" and stumbled across this video version of it.  I'm pretty sure everyone in the creative industry feels this way far too often, but it's nice to know you're not the only one, that it's just part of the job. I'll paste the text below, but be sure to watch the video above. 

"Nobody tells people who are beginners — and I really wish somebody had told this to me — is that all of us who do creative work … we get into it because we have good taste. But it’s like there’s a gap, that for the first couple years that you’re making stuff, what you’re making isn’t so good, OK? It’s not that great. It’s really not that great. It’s trying to be good, it has ambition to be good, but it’s not quite that good. But your taste — the thing that got you into the game — your taste is still killer, and your taste is good enough that you can tell that what you’re making is kind of a disappointment to you, you know what I mean?
A lot of people never get past that phase. A lot of people at that point, they quit. And the thing I would just like say to you with all my heart is that most everybody I know who does interesting creative work, they went through a phase of years where they had really good taste and they could tell what they were making wasn’t as good as they wanted it to be — they knew it fell short, it didn’t have the special thing that we wanted it to have.
And the thing I would say to you is everybody goes through that. And for you to go through it, if you’re going through it right now, if you’re just getting out of that phase — you gotta know it’s totally normal.
And the most important possible thing you can do is do a lot of work — do a huge volume of work. Put yourself on a deadline so that every week, or every month, you know you’re going to finish one story. Because it’s only by actually going through a volume of work that you are actually going to catch up and close that gap. And the work you’re making will be as good as your ambitions. It takes a while, it’s gonna take you a while — it’s normal to take a while. And you just have to fight your way through that, okay?"

-Ira Glass

Do you have a fixed or growth mindset?

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I learned about Brain Pickings recently and am very much enjoying their articles!  Last week I read about Fixed vs Growth Mindsets and it really spoke to me, so I wanted to share it with you. I'll give you the gist of it if you promise you'll read it.  Here goes… 

FIXED MINDSET:
1. We are born with all the intelligence we will ever have.
2. Making a mistake means you aren't smart.
3. This is the hand I was dealt and there's nothing I can do to make it better.
4. If I were smarter, this wouldn't take so much effort.

GROWTH MINDSET:
1. We are here to learn and the more we learn, the more intelligent we become.
2. Mistakes are not failure, they are simply a way of learning.
3. The hand I was dealt is just a starting point.  My effort and hard work make me even better!
4. I am smart because of the effort I make. 

To read the entire article, click here.  I hope you get as much out of it as I did!

Shake a leg... it's Valentine's!

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This little fella is from our "give a little love" collection.  We are currently working on it with our new partner in the UK and are having so much fun designing these little critters.  We laugh every time we look at them!  Simple and minimalistic with a little surprise that spreads love in a tiny way.  Happy Valentine's Day from all of us at Petite Alma.

Gimme the news... with a dash of humor

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I'm very impressed with these two lovely ladies above.  Carly Zakin and Danielle Weisberg (previously employed at NBC News) are founders of theSkimm, a charming and informative daily email that breaks down top stories into a few paragraphs.  It's a quick, easy read and funny too. What better way to start off the day- informed and laughing!  Three cheers for smart, funny and entrepreneurial women!  Sign up here to get your morning news.

Photograph found here at Refinery29.

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A New York design studio celebrating simplicity and the little things that count.