Eco-deco making in mint & silver; -with flu in the house.

Yes my little ones are not well, so have been busy with runny noses, feverish nights and killing toss, therefore time has been divided between that and making eco-deco for the wedding. In fact I love making things so am a bit sad that the actual date is approaching as I wish to go on making things for another 6 months…hihi I suppose I just need an excuse for making..

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First out is a detail of an arrow made of recycled materials like chopsticks, string and scraps of paper, were thinking to incorporate  them with the elk horns, instead of the white moss idea…lets see what you think?

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Secondly I made a feather garland with silver tips and mint ribbon, which will be used in the reception area, as there they have two double doors which opens up in the middle of the room so I thought it could be nice to mark that with a dreamy garland before you enter into the ceremony area…(once positioned on location I will post some images.)

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Then for the kids play area I have made several multi-coloured mint garlands that will act as a curtain and invite the kids into a ‘secret’ corner with toys and other activities, at the same time as it blends with the other decor.

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However our most tedious task are painting twigs and branches, phww it takes forever!!!…and yes I know you could spray them, but my heart goes out to the environment and I have resorted to using an environmental friendly paint and a old fashion brush. The idea is to make them look wintery and bring some of that crispy, white feeling indoors. I mean they do look great once painted but it takes ages to do!!!

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The twigs will then be part of the table decor together with the horns, arrows and some candles, well lets look a bit closer at the arrows:   I started by clearing our kitchen drawers from all old chopsticks (we love sushi so I feel a certain satisfaction about being able to re-use these chopsticks) Then I cut arrow shapes from different scraps of paper and glued them to the sticks. After that silver thread was wrapped around the top part and decorated with glitter.

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It’s nice seeing it all come together and I still have other objects on the way, but this is a little preview of work-in-progress and I promise to post some photos once its set up on location on the 20th of March, so more will come!

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what’s been cooking? -ecological colours

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hey ho! starting the new year with some home-made vegetable ink cooking, as an artist and designer I am currently intrigued with how we can reduce toxic waste when painting and creating. So this first post is about making your own inks from vegetables and spices.

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I started this experiment by boiling red onion and beetroot with some salt and water (the salt acts as a fixing agent) and the first test stripes were not very successful…especially the red onion came out very pale.

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so then I added some turmeric to the water and things got more exciting, as for the beetroot I just left it to simmer for more time in order to create more intensity. Then I simmered the red onion and turmeric until almost all the water had vaporized and I was left with a thick turmeric paste which gives a more mustard coloured tone.

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To finish off I recycled two small pots and filled them with my eco-ink, which is slightly thicker then commercially bought ink, but I suppose that depends on how much water you add and how long you let it simmer for. I have now popped these in the fridge in order to store them for as long as possible, and my partner, who is a chef, said that you just need to smell them to know when they are starting to get off. The only problem is that they are not light resistant, (which I have discovered with my blueberry painting) that means that once applied to paper they will fade over time, so my homework is now to research how to make them light resistant! -without adding chemicals of course!!

 

On your bikes and get to know the area

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This is my latest creation, which I have dedicated to the town where we live: Umea, and now all eco-prints are available in a local pop-up shop for northern designers, which feels pretty awesome!  This piece is created as an homage to Umea, (which is a university town where people cycle a lot), and the buildings have been covered with letters and numbers to symbolize the academic spirit and learning going on here. Furthermore, the green shadows are there to support this environmentally friendly form of transport and encourage people to be even greener, because believe it or not here they ride it in the winter (despite -20 degrees) by putting winter tires on the bikes which helps you to avoid accidents on icy road conditions. So there is no excuse; -get on your bikes!!!

So what else has been going on? well, I have just stumbled upon a shared studio space! which for me is the best Christmas present!

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Take a look at this! it’s basically an old dairy factory, which now has been converted in to various artist studios, and there one  can apply for a membership with a compound that specializes in the same area as one has their skills, so I am applying for the art & textile compound. Last week I went for a visit and the space is like a massive eye candy!!! yum yum. There you can do screen printing, sculptures, sewing, painting and other creative stuff.  I also spoke with the president and explained a bit what I do and she has now sent me an application form to fill out and then hopefully after Christmas I can started using the space!

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So yes, went home and put my head to some serious research (as I have been abroad for 20 years I haven’t got a clue about anything around here, like where to get materials etc), and who doesn’t know that the textile industry is a very toxic business, so this will be a challenge but I am determined to carry on the ideology of eco-design, and have already found some environmentally friendly screen printing products through Screentec, who has devoted themselves to develop eco-friendly printing products which are water based and free from phthalate and PVC; and I am about to become another customers of theirs. Moreover, apart from ensuring you use good products you can also make an effort when it comes to cleaning by trying to collect residues to the last drop and wipe tools with paper before washing them with water.

In fact I read a profound study conducted by the city of Stockholm and the cultural administration where they highlight that all waste classified as dangerous for humans and the nature should NEVER be placed in the bin or poured down the sink. As dangerous you would include solvents, chemical photo products, paint residues, even packages that are empty but has contained dangerous products should not be disposed this way but collected separately and brought to an environmental station.

s7ss14sOne big NO-NO in the art world are colours with cadmium, like cadmium red or yellow, and a lot of people do not know this but cadmium can’t be filtered away, and its highly toxic for humans, animals and plants. Recently the Swedish national water company examined the level of cadmium in water around the country and in areas close to art schools they found  a massive increase of cadmium in the water; something I find very scary because it’s mainly due to the fact that people do not know this. So on your bikes and find the nearest environmental station! we need to know where they are…while we wait for the system to become more convenient for eco-living.

-have a good Christmas!!!

Christmas

 

Getting closer…100 prints ready!

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‘Figure it out’

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‘Crow’

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‘Public transport’

 

Not far to go, am almost ready to open up EcoDesignUmea’s own webshop! -feels exciting and scary at the same time…

So how did this happen?!? …  ok  here is my story:   Last year;  – well in fact on the 8th of December it will be exactly 365 days since I had a bad accident and broke my sacrum bone completely (lower part of the spine)

Yup, believe it or not but I slipped so badly on the northern ice that I fell backwards and broke my back, well to be honest I could not believe it and its taken me some time to grasp.  At first the doctors were not very positive and said they could not operate because it was to risky, that I was over-optimistic and they explained that the injury needed to self-heal,  (which I am now in the process of)  and apparently that will take a few years.

However, after 6 months of being nicely drugged up I started making little things at home and working on the computer whilst healing my back  (by then my whole being were itching to create)  and that is when I started this blog. So I have used this time to set up an on-line life related to my passion of ecological art & design (am a great believer of creativity and sustainable existence), which feels weird and interesting at the same time… lets see how it will go. My back is still in bad shape and am still taking the same amount of painkillers but every 2-3 months I can notice a slight improvement, like being able to stand longer and walk a bit further.

Anyhow, I don’t want this to sound like a sob-story! – and at first I did not want to share anything personal here but as time is passing EcoDesignUmea is becoming a part of my life and giving me a lot of joy and satisfaction,  in fact I am a very positive person (most of the time) who just wish to create and change a few things in this world, so that is what I am going for.

Now I have just received my first bit of eco-stock, the above prints are part of that, and then spent the whole day researching environmentally friendly ways to support this concept, learning about branding, marketing and all this other stuff which I feel is a bit of drag and out of my field but it keeps me occupied.  So lets see but hopefully I will find a way which stays in line with the whole eco idea, from materials (re-) used in initial stages to the final product & packaging, -so if you have any tips please share them!

Good night and thanks for sticking around!! x

P.S. all above designs are created with recycled materials

 

Christmas tips for eco-friends

 

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How many people go on holiday by train and come back with more suitcases then when they left?

well I did!  -believe it or not we were carrying more suitcases on our return then when we left 5 days ago (after that I knew my hobby will stick with me forever). The thing is that sometimes I just fall in love and when there is an idea to pursue little will stop me, and this year I am determined to do as much as I can eco-friendly, and that includes everything, like traveling and Christmas presents for our little monkeys. So this is what I have in mind for the little ones (glad they can’t read yet…) -we will fill a suitcase with second-hand clothes and accessories to make a dressing up Pandoras box! Like that we can use recycled garments, hats, scarfs, shoes, gloves and jewellery, and the little ones will be delighted, without a doubt. Hence when I saw the suitcase in Oslo I just knew I had to bring it with me, and this is the start of the girls present.

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WHAT ABOUT THE BIG PEOPLE???

well my tip of the year is to get people this staple-free stapler!!! -its AMAZING!

basically what it does is that it staples paper together by punching a U-shaped hole with a slit above it and then folding the punched bit of paper back on itself and through the slit, really its to good to be true! and the great thing about it is that it makes recycling so much easier and encouraging + you don’t have to buy any staples and therefore minimizes consumption. My question is why its made in plastic (well I know, but really it could have been made to last a lifetime(s)) and should this not be integrated at all schools, offices, municipalities etc etc? Just think how many staples we would save! so please spread the word and go buy a staple-free stapler for your  friend!

 

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whoop whoop fresh of the press!

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Just returned from the printers and our first test run! so the outcome is that it will be better to print, at least in this place; because they have achieved  the white swan label, (read more here: svanen) which in this nordic region is a symbol for environmentally friendly products and businesses. As they have won this rather prestigious marking their regulations and products are tightly monitored to stay within the acceptable framework.

While we were waiting for the prints to come out, Johan, who works there, told me that they really have seen an increase of customers demanding environmentally friendly prints in the last 5 years and I could not help but notice that a lot of documents where being printed for the local government of Umea, which means they are falling in line with the green wave sweeping our planet. Moreover, this little town has applied for the title of ‘European Green Capital‘ 2016, (which they didn’t get but are now preparing for the comeback and a new application the following year…2017.) -Well, good stuff!!!! we want more of this please.The first year out the winner were Stockholm, so lets honor them with a little photo shall we.. its a beautiful city!Scenic summer aerial panorama of Stockholm, Sweden

where were we? yes, the prints, so have now decided to print up a small edition of artwork to sell but before going ahead I just have to rework some details and save the images in a different format and in the meantime the printer guy will order some more sustainable paper as they had run out (its in demand ha!)

so home I went and called the inland revenue (skatteverket) less exciting but hey here everything is done by the book so I thought I better inform myself of how things work after living abroad for 20 odd years (well I was only 18 when I took off, and had never paid a bill in my life) and luckily I spoke to a very nice girl who gave me some sound advice of how to run your creative business, so lets apply them (but got to do book keeping which I absolutely detest!) anyway life is full of ups and downs -have a good week!!

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Say no to advertising and go digital

Today I am very proud of myself for phoning up different commercial companies who send me their directories and paper adverts and cancel all this junk mail. Even thou we have a note on our door saying “no advertising” we still receive everything which carries our name and address, so thanks to Bea Johnson’s book ‘Zero Waste Home’ where she cleverly explains that the best way to reduce waste is by stopping it from entering your home I had the idea of stopping this junk mail from entering our home by contacting the ones who send it. Believe it or not,  everyone I spoke with was very friendly and happy to help with this idea of decreasing waste and paper consumption.  Also there are a lot of companies who now-a-days send you advertising digitally and even thou that can be annoying too at least it does not physically use resources.

That leads me on to my second topic; digital work. I have spent the last week or so creating art work on the computer, well its not all done on the computer, I have used paintings and drawings which I had laying around and collaged them together in to new pieces.I am now going to reproduce them in a certified environmentally friendly printing company, and compare the material used that way versus using paint and glue. The question to be explored: is digital reproduction better for the environment then physically using art material and making things new 1st hand?well I think so but am not sure yet, but I have just spoken to the printers and we have decided to do a test run first and then work out the impact, so I can compare the use of ink versus the use of paint per piece…These are the pieces to be tested, what do you think?

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