Saturday, July 24, 2010

I would like to take you to the National Building Museum

The National Building Museum is my Favorite Museum in Washington DC. Every time I go, I recall the first time I went, first semester in architecture school, with Kathy and other classmates, for a lecture by rockstar architect Rem Koolhaus. The city was a shock to our senses, even though we'd been living in small town Blacksburg but two months. Emerging from the metro at Judiciary Square and seeing the red-orange brick edifice rising from the view cone made by the escalator shaft was dramatic, as was the entry into the grand hall where Inaugural Balls were held for more than a century, volumes of open space framed by massive columns, lit by clerestory above the gallery of marble busts, barely identifiable as human heads from all the way down here. I feel tiny inside this space.

Today we saw some excellent exhibits that allowed us to touch the terra cotta architectural ornament made for cornices and the like, normally touched only by birds. I was captivated by the drawing techniques of earlier centuries in the New England House Design exhibit, Drawing Toward Home. Exhibits notwithstanding, the Building is a Museum in itself, in its stone relief friezes telling the stories of American battles and settlement and its interior spaces showing off the height of classicism.

Friday, July 23, 2010

New Orleans Streetscape

Drawings of New Orleans vernacular architecture have been "in the works" since almost a year ago. I've finally had time to make something of these disparate building elevations, from Shotguns and Creole Cottages to Villas and Shops. They are strung together in an imagined streetscape with tiny cast iron gates in front and spanish moss-covered live oaks receding behind the buildings. Since this is the city of Mardi Gras, festive beads line the edges. Check them HERE.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Vintage Recipe Cards

This is my grandmother's recipe for gingerbread, well used, the paper infused with oil & flour.

I was lucky to work with a client recently who wanted to give her mother's recipe collection new life after her passing. She asked me to adapt my Vintage Apron Patterns note cards as RECIPE CARDS - apron pattern illustration on the front and a simple frame on the back where she'll adhere photocopies of her mother's handwritten recipes. They must be 3" x 5" to fit old-fashioned recipe boxes.

As usual, clients have great ideas - and I decided to design a set for everyone. The 3" x 5" Vintage Aprons RECIPE CARDS includes 8 different illustrations on the front, and a lightly lined writing field surrounded by a neat frame with 8 different cheeky slogans from vintage 1950s food ads.
A second set, the Embroidered Aprons RECIPE CARDS seemed a natural evolution as 4" x 6" cards featuring the illustrations of the Embroidered Aprons note cards. Five different drawings inspired by vintage apron and embroidery patterns grace the fronts with gingham and rick-rack, with a lightly lined writing field surrounded by a frame of matching rick-rack on the back.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Adventures in Birthday Cake

I had a birthday. Since I have too many favorite cakes - and the advent of my birthday occurred while staying with my parents and having a great cake-baker (my mom) directing the experiment, we decided to make a layer cake combining three of my favorites. Luckily, they all had similar ingredients and were perfectly tied together by the cream cheese frosting. The high fruit content led my mother to name it, brilliantly, the "Carmen Miranda Cake." It's also a great source of fiber! When it came time to set the dome over the cake on its platter, we discovered the cake was too tall and had to improvise like MacGyver...duct tape and boxes of Jell-O kept the dome from marring the frosting top.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Savannah to Washington DC

I was racing to finish the Jones Street drawings before I left Savannah for a "sabbatical" in Washington DC. The past few weeks were a flurry of tying loose ends at the office, going through years of accumulated treasures in my studio, discarding, saving, packing, cleaning, moving, spending time with friends, visiting my favorite places one more time (Tybee Island, Terra Cotta, The Paris Market, shopSCAD, Back in the Day Bakery, Forsyth Park) and saying good-bye - for now.

I'm not going to lie - I cried. I will miss my friends, my house, my ward, my city. I can't imagine not walking the four picturesque blocks to the office every weekday, climbing the stairs to the fourth floor where my desk overlooked the live oaks on Chatham Square and working with the smartest (not to mention funniest) guys in town. They surprised me with a going-away dinner that not only included a 7-course tasting menu at the nicest restaurant in town and meaningful parting gifts that were way too nice, they miraculously found time amidst our intense workload and international travel to design a 7-part retrospective of my seven years at Sottile & Sottile titled The Kirsten Charrette. It included seven 3'x6' boards each with a theme expressed in expertly Photoshopped images of me and our times working together and a myriad of jokes that no one will understand but us. I will really miss our little team and hope to reunite for some charrettes in the future.
Excerpts from the Kirsten Charrette: Looking Ahead...
Kirsten in Washington
A Typical Week

Monday: Getting the Lay of the Land H Street...N Street..What the...?
(that's me on my bike doing site analysis on Hutchinson Island photoshopped into DC Rush Hour looking towards the capitol)
Tuesday: Starting a New Book Get the hard ones done first...

(Me drawing at some charrette, photoshopped onto the capitol view..a la This is Washington DC Vol. 1)
Wednesday: Navigating the Historical Society Hmm...Where could I get some old maps of this place?

(Me, photoshopped onto the National Archives)
Thursday: Going Back to School All these books...wish they had a library around here.
(An awful photo of me measuring a street, hunched over under a photoshopped backpack on the UVA campus)

Friday: 'Nuff Said Time to Tickle the Trout.......

(too much to explain on this one)

That's Craig and Anthony fighting over my desk (LOVE the pose) - and a misty photo of me working there on some cold day in history.

When I said good-bye to my best friend Catherine and set off on my drive north this morning, I was excited by the possibilities and experiences that lay ahead and so very grateful for amazing friends and experiences in Savannah. It will always be a place that feels like home to me and I'll be no stranger to her.

For the next few months, I am looking forward to making new work, including This is Savannah, Vol. 2 Jones Street and eventually pursuing a graduate degree in Architectural History and working in Preservation or Education. And some Savannah reminiscing every now and then...

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Goodbye, Lenore

I lived in a 3-story red brick apartment building built in 1922 by Dr. John Collins. Six nearly identical apartments with cast iron balconies on the front and wooden porches on the back, two apartments to each floor, mirrored floor plans, each with an entry door to the living room from the main foyer/stairwell and a door to the bedroom on the adjacent wall. That second door always seemed odd - but maybe it was so that room could be rented out in desperate times. A large double door, cast iron in an acorn motif backed by plexi-glass is the main entrance to the foyer, and above the doors a transom onto which the building name is scribed: LENORE. I often wondered, Who was Lenore?

I acquired the apartment while on a trip to London and Ireland. I was thinking about it while on my trans-Atlantic flight and sketched my dreams for the space in a dark airplane.

Inside, I made my habitat. A look back in time... I never really "decorated." It was a place to work, sleep and eat. I did collect some antique furniture and I hung things that inspired me like the 1891 birds eye view print of Savannah, postcards from friends, and the artwork of my favorite kids, Ella and Joey. When I first came to Savannah, all I owned was in the back of my small pickup truck. Now I have half-filled a 16' moving truck. Perhaps I should have left my Savannah things in Savannah, but each piece has a unique story of how it was acquired and I've grown fond of them.

Some said this place was just what they imagined it to be, knowing me before meeting my apartment. It evolved as an apartment in Savannah should. Now that I've indulged in this look back through time of my years in the Lenore, I wonder what my next dwelling will be...