marimekko palette Avon

On the same day, I learned of two bits of news that were related and un-related all at the same time, leaving me with mixed feelings. One, I learned that Riitta Immonen, one of the founders of Finnish textiles and clothing design, marimekko, had died, in late August. Two, I learned that institutional American door-to-door makeup company, Avon, had partnered up with marimekko to create limited-edition eye shadow and all-over face, fall palettes. The obit was reported in The New York Times; the product PR, tucked in the pages of Lucky. Two publications talking to two sides of my multi-faceted personality. Confusing? Not really, but I couldn’t help but feel bad, guilty, happy and hopeful all at once.

The obit made me sad about life in general. How often do we hear of one’s life until it comes to an end? And how often do we only get the highlights and not the in-betweens, the things that were done before and after the bigger strokes the individual painted? All the scraps and bits that are usually on the cutting room floor of how that person was shaped, was changed and became one’s own aspiration.

But then, how does one find acceptance? Particularly, how could I be appeased by the news of Riitta’s death with a picture of a compact? How can a material good be the closest thing to understanding a human being? And why is there guilt in trying to reach such a creative gesture, a worldly gesture, in coveting a little pressed pigment?

This is silly, isn’t it? And yet I can’t help it. Read more

Sportsac montage header

The Stella McCartney Spring 2008 Collection for LeSportsac is on sale! Pretty ridic! What’s more ridic is that the line didn’t sell, or really, sell out. (Think Gwen Stefani’s limited edition 2004 L.A.M.B. collection.) I figure it must be the colour combos and print Sir Paul’s daughter chose to do the line in, since Her fall collection is a huge departure from her spring works–all solids, in tame fall-fashion colours–purple (“silence”), black (“night”) and greige (“bark”).

Stella is however still adding a charm to all her bags and carryalls. The spring bunny is now being replaced with a fall deer. (Very Alison Goldfrapp.) And for those who want to hop on the animal bandwagon (I couldn’t help it!) the old bunny backpack is a new deer rucksack–screenprinted perhaps to look less Donnie Darko (Stella’s bunny bag missing facial details; entirely creepy) and maybe more Robert Bateman (all details, illustrated as an artist’s working sketch).

Despite the real-life rendering, I still can’t imagine how the deer rucksack will work. Not even on the runway. Not even on the oilily runway. Am I not haute couture enough? Tell me! I want my idea of the world of fashion to grow. I’m just not sure if I want it to grow into a deer rucksack.

Well, there is definitely one sure way to find out. The next LeSportsac stella’ sale! Take tote! (I’ll stop that now.)

Adams towel

I know I’m a bit late with this news (it took me a while to get to making a graphic for this post) but I LOVE LOVE LOVE that there will be another book added to The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams. Truly amazing!

Eoin Colfer is slated to write the next installment of the five-part trilogy (classic Adams), as per Adams’s widow, Jane Belson’s, request. Wow!

Colfer is probably best known for the Artemis Fowl series; which from many-a-disappointed-Harry-Potter fan, was a far superior read. My nephews will contest! (Airman is currently on my “Holds” list at the library.)

Apparently Adams wanted to write a sixth book following Mostly Harmless, book five of the series, but unfortunately, died before completing his work. (This might sound morbid, but I always thought that Adams was spared 9/11–he died earlier in the same year, in 2001–as maybe some greater force realized his sensitive soul would not be able to stomach such a catastrophe, especially after writing the underpinnings of the modern day world as we know it.)

I hope Colfer’s contribution to Adams’s achievement will generate interest for more books in the series since, six is too perfect, too even, a number for me. (I’m partial to odd numbers.) Douglas Adams’s strength in storytelling relies heavily on relaying to his reader about the imperfection of life, in all its humour, more than the striving of perfection, the ideal that exists differently in each individual’s imagination. That is to say, the oddity of the evenness of life, and not the evenness of the oddity of life. (Why do I feel like I just talked myself into a circle? Thank-you Adams. Thank-you very much.)

However, six conveniently, is a multiple of forty-two; which may mean, I may not have to wait millions of years to discover the Ultimate Question. Until publishing then! Deep thought persists!

IMAGE | Umbra | Conceal towel shelf

Ms Hempel Chronicles

OMG OMG OMG! New Sarah Shun-Lien Bynum book out now! Ms. Hempel Chronicles! YES! She is my favourite! And that opinion is based on some fiction she wrote for Tin House and The New Yorker. (I’m not an easy sell. I just know great when I see it!) I have yet to get my hands on a copy of her first book, Madeleine is Sleeping, which was a finalist for the National Book Award and winner of the Kafka Prize. Regardless of merit, awarded or not, Bynum gets A’s in my books, and maybe one day, I can score some of my own in hers too.

I am, seriously, seriously considering taking her writing course at the University of California, San Diego where Bynum teaches writing and lit. Next year Bynum is teaching Short Fiction, for the Winter 2009 academic calendar. Perfect!

So. Who wants to put me up for a while? Seriously. This is one of my rare moments of extroversion here folks. Rarely do I raise my hand in the hopes of getting chosen. I’ll be the perfect house guest. I’m just saying. Think about it. (You’ve got three months). But not too much. My writing life hangs in the Bynum balance.

Paper Place Card Workshop

Nancy moved into the Brock Avenue warehouse and expanded. The industrial building was to be the hub of The Japanese Paper Place. Teachers, conservators and artists are regulars.

International business is ever-increasing. During the week of my visit, the shop has shipped to Greece, Turkey, England, Finland and the States. There are customers in Australia, South Africa, Iceland, Korea and more. From time-to-time trips to Japan are necessary to meet with suppliers. Finally, Nancy is able to focus on the side of the business she enjoys the most: travel!

Years ago, a young woman thought of a place where foreign papers could be sold. A place where if people “could see and handle the paper, they too would believe in it and like it.” Through perseverance, positivity and passion, the same principles endured and an institution was born. First in Toronto, and then, around the world.

Despite the changes on Queen Street, the concept of The Japanese Paper Place, never fell out of vogue. And the rules for living? Their story to be told. Read more

Paper Place Sign

The street started to define an upcoming, tony neighborhood. Head-hunters replaced hippies as the new working order. The crowd was younger and the artists were older. When the American retailers moved in, it became obvious: there was no going back.

At The Japanese Paper Place, two kinds of business had developed: the scrapbooking set and the experienced artists. One group needed help coordinating paper and card; the other, the subtle qualities of the paper. Satisfying both types of clients well, proved difficult. More importantly, for Nancy, the store was moving in a direction away from her original intent. In the end, she would have to decide on how to support the people she felt most comfortable with–the older established community of artists–while someone else, better equipped, could look after the Blackberry bunch. Someone possibly younger. Preferred crooner over choral. Capable to revitalize the atmosphere in the store, once again. Read more

JPP Binders

Nancy had a small one-unit in an Artists Co-Op on Noble Street. The Japanese Paper Place worked out of these quarters until some realty freed up on Queen West, not far from the Co-Op. A futon store had become for rent. The space was ideal. Nancy would take it.

In the new locale, business thrived. Distribution grew, locally and internationally. Workshops were being added and updated all the time. Teachers, from everywhere, started to arrive.

The shop was developing a reputation.

Artists weren’t the only patrons. The general public was making their way too. The store had become an enclave of a greater phenomena: North America’s fascination with Asian culture.

Suddenly, the Japanese sensation had caught on.

East meets West, meets west.

West on Queen.

Nancy, made it possible. Read more

JPP Sample Book

In 1982 Nancy returned from a trip to Europe. Her longterm relationship had ended. She had little to no money.

And so, as was always the case with Nancy, she started to invest in the “power of positive thinking.”

A shop had become vacant on Queen Street west. A small space, “in no man’s land,” right across from the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health. Next door was a paint shop. The rent was cheap. Three hundred dollars. It was somewhere people could discover. Nancy saw it as being successful. She considered a name that reflected the business of what she was doing. She called it, “The Japanese Paper Place.” There was an opening. Kindred spirits were invited.

Immediately, workshops were underway. People had to learn about the properties of the paper. Lampshade making, bookbinding and portfolio classes grew popular. Don Taylor was one of the first instructors.

Artists found a rare resource. They embraced the tools, and Nancy embraced them. Artistic activity was constant. A community had formed. The Japanese Paper Place was fulfilling its mission: “to support local creativity through Japanese papers and products.”

It does so to this day.

Business, was good. Five years after opening, Nancy, with her neighbor, bought the building. Then, there was the fire. Read more

Japanese Paper montage

As a child, Nancy amused herself with coloured pieces of construction paper. She collected streetcar transfers, which at the time, were issued in different colours. As she grew up, she started and kept up with, her own newspaper. Books filled her, and she filled books. She was a paper lover. Although she may have not known it then, Nancy’s passion for paper would set the course of her adult life.

In 1975, Nancy did something that was uncommon at that time. Like many of today’s youth, searching for “an experience,” entering their quarter-life crisis, Nancy went to Japan to teach English. She stayed for a year and loved it. Loved it so much that she returned over and over again.

During her visits, Nancy discovered the aesthetic of Japanese paper. She was enthralled. Teaching wasn’t so important anymore. The paper had taken hold. Read more