everydaysparks

Stuff I see, which you might not.

A unique urban forest in Melbourne

I’m in Melbourne for a few days and yesterday as I walked past the little City Square part of town, I noticed some brightly coloured trees. I was on my way to meet a friend though, so couldn’t stop to check them out. This morning, I went back to have a look at these amazing beauties that are brightening up the CBD – a yarn bombing initiative to draw attention to Melbourne’s urban forest plans, as far as I can work out. Whatever about the plans to preserve the city’s trees over the next 20 years (see, I did actually have a look at the website that was advertised on the trees, so their clever plan is working), these colourful tree cardigans and quilts have won me.

And it does get quite cold here in the winter, so I hope that they leave them on for a while – am sure the trees will feel quite naked without them. Good job, city of Melbourne – your razzle dazzle urban forest attention-grabber is fabulous!

A yarn-bombed City Square, Melbourne.

A yarn-bombed City Square, Melbourne.

A bizarre rainbow of woolly trees...

A bizarre rainbow of woolly trees…

A blue granny blanket at the tram and bus stop.

A blue granny tree blanket at the tram and bus stop.

Keeping it green.

Keeping it green.

Sure brightens up this part of the CBD, with lots of trees wrapped down the street.

Sure brightens up this part of the CBD, with lots of trees wrapped down the street.

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New Year’s Resolution #7 – the one about nail polish

I’m not really a big fan of serious new year’s resolutions. I have a few things that I tried last year that met with mixed success (see more movies, read more books, run more, lose weight, say yes to more things – in a good way – and so on). Then again, I look back on 2012 as a great year for me, as things came up along the way that I turned into on-the-spot resolutions and saw those through. If I was wedded to my 2012 resolutions, I would have felt like a failure because my September injury meant a fast and dramatic end to my running program; I would have forced myself to see movies that I didn’t like to fill the monthly quota I had set; I would have said no to doing things so that I could finish the books on my bedside table. Granted, that growing pile of books is now threatening to topple on my head in the dead of night, so reading more books is something I’m keen to do in 2013 – if only for survival.

My resolutions have tended to form more of a to-do list for the year ahead, which I don’t think is best practice resolution setting, but it seems to work for me (mostly). I try to make some small, everyday kinda commitments or goals and some bigger (or longer term) resolutions too. And like any good to-do list, the more I put on, the better the chance of crossing something off. Surely.

Anyways, a resolution that I’ve decided to try this year is a very shallow and simple, yet specific, one: wear more nail polish. Because I’m worth it. Really though, I never paint my finger nails as I’ve never seen the point of it when they chip so quickly when you’re busy doing stuff, but this year I’m starting in style. With the yellow, pineapple scented (yes, really) Sportsgirl nail polish that I gave my nieces for Christmas. Sure, I keep thinking I’ve got stickers caught on my fingers or someone has attacked me with highlighters, but these colourful nails are everyday sparks if ever I’ve seen them…

NewYearNails

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The First Sydney Color Run – I’m in!

I’d never heard of the Color Run until my friend Anne asked if I’d like to join her team – when I checked it out online, I saw that it looks bizarre, crazy, colourful, fun and very very very different to a normal fun run. So, of course I’m in. They call the Color Run (American spelling – it’s really bugging me not to write ‘colour’, believe me) ‘the happiest 5k on the planet’.

According to the organisers, there are really only two simple rules: (1) you have to start the run in white shirts and (2) you have to finish the run covered in colour. I love their big picture explanation: “Runner/walkers begin the 5k at the start line like a brand new pristine coloring book. By the end, they look like they fell into a Willy Wonka… tie dyed… vat of colored goodness. We are the creators of an all new paint race phenomena!” Of course, they had me at Willy Wonka.

So, how does it work? Apparently, “each kilometer of the event is associated with a designated color: yellow, orange, pink, or blue.  As the runners/walkers reach the Kilometer COLOR RUN Zones, they are blitzed by our volunteers, sponsors, and staff with COLOR.   All products are 100% natural and safe.  You can eat the stuff if you’d like (we have tried it and don’t suggest it, it is surprisingly high in calories and leaves a chalky aftertaste).  Of course, we save the best for last, ending the race with a color extravaganza of epic proportions.

Basically, you run 5km and every km, people jump out and shoot or throw coloured powder all over you. This is the first time the run has come to Australia, after being rolled out across the USA. The first Australian Color Run is in Melbourne in November and we get our turn in Sydney in February. I’ve registered and, by the looks of the peeps in this promo video, better make sure I don’t have any appointments for the rest of the day…Let me know if you’re in Sydney and want to join in the colourful fun!

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Birds of a feather

Pigeons often get a hard time – whether you mock them as ‘rats with wings’, or snigger as they rummage through school rubbish bins to try and salvage some dinner, they’re not exactly the most admired in the bird world. Except for racing pigeons – those guys are just amazing and I don’t think I’ll ever understand how they ‘work’. Anyways, a recent pigeon post on designboom caught my eye and I thought I’d share it here.

In a nutshell, German artists Julian Charriere and Julius von Bismarck (how’s that for a great name?) came up with a project they called “Some pigeons are more equal than others” during this year’s Biennale in Venice. In a daring PR campaign to make the pigeons ‘less offensive’ and more attractive to visitors, they took some of the birds from the Venetian piazzas into specially created booths and spray-painted them in different colours. Birds of spray, if you will. (Sorry.)

It’s an interesting idea and it definitely changes the whole look of the birdies. But, like ladies dressed up and fake tanned for a day at the races, the bright packaging will fade and true colours will be revealed before too long. And pigeons will be pigeons. Here are some of the photos – see what you think.

You can check out the designboom post here, with lots more photos of the multi-coloured pigeons.

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London colours

This is the last short post from London – just wanted to include some of the more colourful photos that I snapped as we wandered around.

Tights for sale at Notting Hill. Legs not for sale.

Notting Hill houses – some look like the result of a neighbourhood dare.

An old guy was out on the balcony of the bottom floor apartment here – love that he has brightened up the bland council housing with an amazing garden.

Van? What van? There’s nothing parked here, officer.

Wen-Bao, you are a peculiar looking baby, being sold by the mean book man at the Portobello Market.

And to finish, the world-famous EverydaySparks photo of bumble bees in Holland Park. Well, someone contacted me to ask if they could post it on the Holland Park Facebook page – technically, that makes it world-famous!

Buzzing around in Holland Park.

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Pop Charts

Some people need charts and visuals to really make sense of the world. I see how it can sometimes be helpful to reduce the confusion of something big or complex into a series of connected boxes on an A3 piece of paper. In the corporate world, accountants have their ‘mud maps’, HR people have their ‘org charts’, management consultants have their ‘stakeholder maps’ and marketing people tend to have something brightly coloured and written in code, so that it doesn’t make sense to outsiders. But that’s just work. What if there were clever people who used their charting prowess to help us navigate and better understand the real world? Ta-da, here’s Pop Chart Lab.

The Lab began a couple of years ago, founded by a book editor and a graphic designer who joined forces with one modest goal in mind: to render all of human experience in chart form. Uh huh. Their range is amazing – they have tackled everything from beer to culinary devices to the story of a boy’s migration to a town called Bel Air. Here are some of my favourite prints (they also print their charts on t-shirts, in case you want to educate the masses).

(c) Pop Chart Lab

Oh yes, from Bill Haley in the top left to Lady Gaga in the bottom right corner, this is indeed A Visual Compendium of Notable Haircuts in Popular Music. It’s a signed, limited edition print that is sure to get people talking. And if you like this, you’ll probably like its cousin: A Visual Compendium of Notable Haircuts in Hollywood. (That one even includes Chewbacca’s impressive ‘do, along with several cast members of the Harry Potter franchise.)

(c) Pop Chart Lab

And here’s the chart that I think is my favourite – a collection of 13 pie charts about pies. Yep, they’re breaking down the ingredients that go into those delicious desserts and it is just as scary as you might imagine. All the old favourites are there – including Fig. 12, Peanut Butter Pie, which is full of gooey goodness: by my calculations, almost 50% peanut butter, around 20% Oreos and almost as much butter, with a fair dose of heavy cream, vanilla extract and bittersweet chocolate. God bless America, I say. (If pies aren’t your thing, you might like The Delectable Kaleidoscope of Candy Bars – a pretty, colourful and super-detailed examination of the common ingredients and textures linking a bzillion different types of sweet treats.)

(c) Pop Chart Lab

And finally, Constitutions of Classic Cocktails breaks down nearly 70 famous drinks into their constituent parts. Apparently, this is the most elaborate chart that the Lab folk have ever made – it is beautifully designed and unbelievably detailed. Whether you’re looking for inspiration to get shakin’, know a dedicated barfly with a birthday coming up, or just like the design, this is a good ‘un. I love it because to me it looks as though the cocktails are at the centre of a mysterious sort of galaxy. Or perhaps cocktails are like the Wheel of Fortune. And let’s face it, when the drinks are flowing, both of those statements are generally true.

If you’re thirsty for more info, you can check out many more educational works of art at the fabulous Pop Chart Lab site here.

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Bunny with a Toolbelt

Yes, that caught my eye too. Bunny with a Toolbelt is the very cool name of Hilary Pfeifer’s business in Portland, Oregon, where the focus has been ‘making you smile since the late 20th century’. Hilary creates sculptures, animals and wedding cake toppers from recycled wood and other materials. And they are brightly coloured and very quirky. Hilary has also written a couple of books and sells t-shirts and mugs adorned with her work. This Bunny is busy.

(c) Bunny with a Toolbelt

I’ll start with my favourite. This dog is made of painted, upcycled wood and stands about 4 inches tall and 11 inches long. The piece is called ‘Oh Happy Day’. And with this brightly coloured piece of magic in your home or office or classroom or shop, I’m tipping you’ll have a very happy day indeed. If you’re a deep kinda person, you can probably read something into the placement of the clouds, or the fact that the dog is happily supporting three animals of another species, all of different colours. But I just like it because it’s bright and cute.

(c) Bunny with a Toolbelt

If you’re looking for a customised gift for that certain someone, you can help Hilary to design your own Mini Me. You send photos and thoughts about the subject to Hilary and she creates a mini version of them. In brightly coloured monster form. Uh huh.

And then there are the elephants that Hilary created to illustrate her first alphabet book – Elephabet. As you might expect, it’s no ordinary alphabet book. Y is for Yippie-ki-Yayiphant, S is for Sushiphant, R is for Radiophant. But my favourite is probably this guy: V is for Vice Versaphant.

(c) Bunny with a Toolbelt

Oh, and the wedding cake toppers – not normally even remotely my kind of thing, but these have a quirky style. Granted, they won’t suit every couple, but for some people, I think they’re probably just perfect…

Like that really tall couple that you know.

(c) Bunny with a Toolbelt

Or those two IT geeks who fell in love in the server room.

(c) Bunny with a Toolbelt

Or that couple that took forever to make it down the aisle.

(c) Bunny with a Toolbelt

And with more than 60 varieties, there’s plenty more where those came from! You can check out the Bunny with a Toolbelt website here and the etsy shop here. Love your work, Hilary!

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Way to play, crochet

Frame magazine recently featured some amazing playground designs by Japanese artist Toshiko Horiuchi-McAdam. What’s so special about them? Oh, just that they’re made of crocheted yarn. Uh huh. Like giant brightly coloured spider webs that you can climb on and swing from.

Apparently Toshiko first came up with the crocheted playground idea back in the 1990s: ‘she was installing a piece made of crocheted yarn, when children asked if they could use it as a hammock’. Nothing like a live experiment to test the strength of the yarn – and it seems that the piece was actually stronger than expected.

Since then, Toshiko has turned her focus to creating public playgrounds and founded a company with her husband, ‘aimed at developing the concept of the play structure’.

The whole point of their work is ‘public art for kids’ – to design an artful experience that responds to the joyful engagement of children. Love it. For more info and pics of this fantastic idea, you can check out the Frame mag feature here.

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Just add sprinkles

I am not embarrassed to say that I like sprinkles. I am not sure of the chemical process involved, but somehow, adding brightly coloured bits of sugar to your ice cream, cake, cappucino froth, or even just a piece of bread and butter turns it from ho-hum into an exciting party.

Which is why I was so pleased to find these sprinkle covered heels on etsy. Made by the clever people at MerloDesigns in the USA, these sweet shoes will liven up any outfit. But you probably shouldn’t wear them out on the town in the rain, just to be on the safe side. Although apparently, “the candy is 100% real, but 100% inedible! That’s right, these little guys have been glued and sealed to keep ants, mice, and other curious critters off your toes!” See, pretty and practical! You can check them out here.

Or there’s this fabulous rainbow resin bangle made by Nicola Williams in the UK – available from her etsy shop Made By Daisy here. Handmade to order, this beauty would make a great gift for any lass – although it will probably prove endlessly frustrating to hungry toddlers.

For summertime fun, you might like this 100s and 1000s giant inflatable Havaianas thong. Once you’ve blown it up, it’s 1.65m long and 65cm wide. Apparently it comes with a matching carry case. Surely it’s gotta be worth buying a pair, if only to scare other people at the beach or pool into thinking there are giants around. They are available at the Havaianas website.

Or for a slightly different take on art, here’s a piece by Joel Brochu – a recreation of a photograph of a dog getting washed. A recreation MADE OF SPRINKLES. Yep, for a Fine Arts project at university, Joel used jewellery tweezers to place each of the 221,184 sprinkles to form the image. Incredible. You can read more about this amazing artwork at My Modern Met.

And now, I’m off to make some fairy bread, with extra sprinkles.

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