Archive for the DESIGN Category

Pre Raphaelite Delights that last longer than 15 minutes with Lashings of Ginger Beer,

Posted in ART, ART HISTORY, BOOKS! DEAR READER I READ IT, DESIGN, exhibitions, HISTORY, LIVING IN THE PAST: NOSTALGIA with tags , , , , , , , , , on August 12, 2011 by echostains

It’s been ages since I last posted (the longest yet) but I hope to make amends today by writing a longer post – a kind of round-up of posts I should have written.

Enid Blyton

The 11th August was popular children’s writer Enid Blyton’s birthday (11 August 1897 – 28 November 1968).  Here’s a  a link to another post I wrote about this author over on my Bookstains.  Eileen A Soper illustrated every one of 21   Famous Five books. 


Eileen A Soper (b. 1905 – 1990 Hertfordshire UK)was an illustrator , print maker and a watercolourist.  She had her first exhibition at the Royal Academy in 1921 at the age of 15, making her the youngest artist ever to exhibit.  Two of her etchings were bought by Queen Mary. 




Her work has great nostalgic appeal and is as attractive today to adults as it was a source of delight to them when they were  children.  A gallery of this artist’s work can be found here






Eileen Sitting in a chair watercolour 1923

Other artists birthdays include Andy Warhol whose birthday I celebrated a while back with this post which featured one a page of my altered book  (this book is still ongoing… complete with artist research)

Andy Warhol-Self-Portrait-1986














Work by Ford Madox Brown

News of an exciting exhibition is coming to Manchester City Gallery (Saturday 24 September 2011 – Sunday 29 January 2012)  A major exhibition of Pre Raphaelite artist Ford Maddox Brown will go on show.  Over 140 paintings by the artist, including his Manchester Town Hall murals (which I have seen) will be exhibited.  The work will be divided into different themes and periods of  the artist’s life including his radical change of direction artistically.  Ford Madox Brown is particularly well-known for his narrative paintings which relate to life in the Victorian age and I think that viewing the paintings collectively will  give the viewer a clearer idea of how radical the Pre Raphaelites really were.  The 12 paintings, known as The Manchester murals depict life in the city in the Victorian age – a must for any Mancunian interested in their city.  The exhibition which will also include a rediscovered painting by the artist.  The painting The Seraph’s Watch  could prove to be a crowd puller.  Here’s a tantalising detail from it below.

Eileen A Soper Gallery (images from there)

Heather’s Blyton pages (all the book images can be found here too)

Manchester City Art Gallery 

The Enid Blyton Society

Andy Warhol image and art history here

More about Ford Madox Brown (and Work image) here

Seraph’s Watch image and an interesting article about this exhibition and Victorian art in general here

Hello Dolly – A celebration of Dolls!

Posted in DESIGN with tags , , , , , , , on July 5, 2011 by echostains

This is a video I made about dolls recently.  Who hasn’t had a doll they loved?  Some people collect dolls, and some have still got their dolls from childhood.  I have not managed to hang onto mine, they were passed down to my sisters and consequently loved and lost.  I hope you spot one of your favorites in this video and have as much fun watching it as I had making it!  The music is appropriately, the Dolly Suite Op. 56 which is a very nostalgic piece of music for a lot of children who listened to the BBC radio programme ”Listen with Mother’

A lot of images have been used in the making of this video.  Special thanks to;-

Reborn dolls here

Alisasinternationaldollart here   including Juanita Montoya, Sylvia Weser Rebecca Major, Tom Francirek & Andre Oliveira, Lyle WongHannah Hyland

Vintage Barbie dolls here  Sindy dolls here

Dark dolls here Scary dolls here  Dreadful and Weird dolls  Creepy Dolls   Dark Romance dolls

Flower Fairies, Chatty Cathy, Tressy, Jem,

and others   dollfashionista    wax dolls       Bleeding Edge Goths    also thanks here and here

Thanks to all!







Candyfloss buildings and Marshmallow Skies

Posted in Architecture, DESIGN with tags , , , , , on July 1, 2011 by echostains

Kansas City Library public parking garage

Architects have their work cut out trying to dream up functional aestheticalyl pleasing buildings.  These particular buildings though, follow the dream literally.  They are castles in the air: imagination made practical, –  each of these buildings actually promotes a product.  For example, Kansas City Library actually incorporates book like structures into its public parking garage.  This might prove an expensive day out if you get a library fine AND  a parking fine. But the library car park is  not the only building to feature aspects of what it ‘sells or produces;-

Furnitureland South

When I first saw this building I thought that each drawer was a floor,  and puzzled over what furniture would be  considered to be ‘top drawer’ and what was tucked away in the bottom drawer, until I found out that  Furnitureland South in Jamestown NC USA is more of a sculpture attached to a building. What a great advertisement for the home furnishings is sells though.   Directions not needed – just look for the very tallboy – you can’t miss it – 85 foot high!

If you like ice cream and would like to live in an ice cream palace then you could buy one of these Twistee Treat ice cream shops!  This firm opened around 90 ice cream parlours between the 1980s and 90s and there’s actually one for sale in Florida (fully stocked).  You could always buy a dismantled one and put it back together yourself for 40,000 dollars though.  This building wood look refreshing in summer and extra chilly in winter – great fun though 🙂


Images from this interesting article – including more wacky buildings here

More information about the Kansas City Public Library car park and the choice of books used and why here

Furnitureland image from here

Happy Birthday Antoni Gaudi!

Posted in Architecture, ART HISTORY, ARTISTS BIRTHDAYS, DESIGN with tags , , , , on June 25, 2011 by echostains

Antoni Gaudi

Today is the birthday of Spanish architect Antoni Gaudi.  Antoni Plàcid Guillem Gaudí Cornet (to give him his full title) was born on this day in 1852 and died in 1926.  It is unknown where exactly he was born, but it may have been either Reus or Riudoms (he was baptised the day after his birth in the church  Sant Pere Apòstol in Reus, though he always stated his family was from Riudoms.

La Sagrada Familia Barcelona

Anyone who has seen Gaudi’s architecture never forgets it.  It is both beautiful yet playful and very very striking.  Barcelona abounds with it.  Gaudi is the best known Catalan Modernist, though he was briefly influenced by neo-Gothic art, he became part of the Catalan Modernista movement which was at its peak towards the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th.

Casa Batilo roof and Gaudi's famous garlic form

Gaudi was inspired by nature and his work has an organic quality to it and shows his earlier oriental influences.  He studied at the Llotja School and the Barcelona Higher school of architecture, graduating in 1878.  He worked as a draughtsman to supplement his studies.

entrance hall Casa Vicens

His first important commission  was the Casa Vicens and after this success he received more commissions.  At the Worlds Fair he impressed Catalan Industrialist Eusebi Güell.  Gaudi was to work on future projects for Guell who became a firm friend an important patron and whom Gaudi did some of his most beautiful work for.

Finca Guell ventilation tower with ceramics

A lot has been written about this enigmatic architect and craftsman.  He has left the world a beautiful legacy  of architecture, and craftsmanship which shows such a purity of vision and just looking at it brings joy to the soul.

Casa Calvet

For more about this remarkable artist  read here

Gaudi’s life and works here 

All images from this fantastic site dedicated to the architect here

Gilded wood anagram designed by Gaudi with the letters JMJ (Jesus, Mary and Joseph

MEANWHILE…….Did you know that there are Goblins over
at Bookstains?  Just click here

Weird and Wacky ‘Make it Snappy!’

Posted in DESIGN, WEIRD AND WACKY DESIGN with tags , , , on May 19, 2011 by echostains

We read so much about Spyware and CCTV cameras being installed as deterrents against crime.  Then there are numerous stories of stalking and identity theft, as well as court cases involving newspapers violating privacy laws.  Most people really value their privacy, but there is also a bit of voyeurism in us all that makes us just want to take a peek at what others are saying and doing (you’d be surprised at how many people you know on Facebook actually read your updates!). 

When I’m out and about and taking photo’s I am always aware that other people may inadvertently be in them.  Some are quite conscious of this and I must admit it’s quite fun to see them pretend they haven’t noticed as they rearrange themselves and turn so that their ‘best side’ will be snapped 😀  Others visibly squirm if they accidentally walk into the path of a video maker  (I definitely fall into this category  and want to run a mile).  But you never know where or when you may be ‘papped’ or by what!  These everyday items look so innocuous, but if you look closely you will spot their real purpose.  Yes – they are all camera’s!

OK, you probably wouldn’t get away with walking round pointing a tin of Spam at people, but what a fun item.  Pin hole cameras are relatively easy and cheap to make and lots of students make these at Uni.  Though the ones I’ve seen are usually made from a wooden box, there is a lot of scope to be creative  with pin hole cameras (like the Spam tin)  The owner/ inventor of this particular camera has taken some very cool photos with it that can be seen  here.  

There are also instructions about how to make one – all from

 But for the ultimate spy camera, try this tiny one for size!  There’s no examples of what sort of picture quality you would get with this unfortunately.  Well, it is a spy camera!

If you want inspiration for making pinhole cameras, then see this site here

Spy camera image and info here

Making a Present of the past

Posted in ART, DESIGN with tags , , on February 27, 2011 by echostains

It’s a long time since I posted any jewelry or artifacts posts on here.  The inspiration today for this post came from a piece I have just written on Bookstains, in celebration of the Poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow‘s birthday.  This video by Native American artist Harold Alfred Kwakwaka’wakw caught my eye.    This Canadian artist was born into the Namgis tribe which is located in the North Eastern Vancouver island.  He is a member of the Kwakwaka’wakw Nation (formerly Kwakiut)

Harold emulates past masters and continues in the tradition whilst maintaining  a high standard of workmanship that is an earmark of the Kwakwaka’wakw art form.  All his work is of very fine quality and he has given these traditional artifacts a contemporary twist – making them fresh and new whilst maintaining their  relevence and history.  The works are narratives, traditional storytelling that deserve to be passed down.   Jewelry, stained glass, Totem poles, masks, Lamps are just a few of the items this artist makes.   The rings and in particular, and also the humming birds necklace is delightful!   

Over on Bookstains is a celebration of the poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s birthday (the post which inspired this post) Just click the button to time travel!

PLUS  Some new poems have been added to the American Gothic Poetry challenge!  Just click the painting to be transported!

More about the artist here and here  

Video by  Thanks!

Weird and Wacky – Clock this!

Posted in DESIGN, WEIRD AND WACKY DESIGN with tags , on January 14, 2011 by echostains


Time Killer

It’s ages since I wrote a weird and wacky post.  As far as I know I’ve never written a post featuring clocks.  I just couldn’t ignore these unusual ones!  For people with time to kill how about this ‘Killing Time’ piece.  I’m not too sure about the fake blood – and I wouldn’t fancy being underneath it if it fell off the wall, but you must admit – it’s a highly original clock and a real attention seeker – real cutting edge 🙂

time teaser

Never  mathematically inclined, I would find this formula hard to crack or work out.  I do however really like this very contemporary time piece and would certainly have it in my house (even though I wouldn’t be able to pronounce which equation the time equaled!

Astrological clock Prague

I’ve actually seen this particular clock.  It’s  a famous landmark in Prague – a wonderful city.  The clock dates from about 1410.  According to legend, the man who made the clock then went blind – so could never make another one.  The skeleton adds an  interesting and grisly touch as he strikes the time upon the hour.

More  Weird and Wacky posts coming soon 🙂

PLUS The Poetry Challenge (The Hepworth Challenge is still underway over at Bookstains – please join in the fun!)

just click the image

Images from here here and here  and here and there’s awonderful clock blog here