Pajaki from Poland

Pajaki are traditional paper and straw chandelier-like decorations from Poland, and with my himmeli obsession, it was probably only a matter of time, before I stumbled upon these. I have noticed them here and there, and not long ago I did a little research. I feel very inspired, and I have to try making one of these, since they seem very spring and easter-like to me. Let's see if I find the time, that is kind of doubtful, but in the meantime I have been gathering images to study. Maybe you feel inspired?

The term 'pajak' or 'pajaki' (is that plural, perhaps?) means spider, quite simply. I had a Polish friend dig a little deeper, since my old, but not always trustworthy friend, Google translate, came up with quite a lot of nonsense, and here is what we have come up with, between us: They are sometimes made for christmas, and also made as easter decorations, sometimes with an egg as a kind of centerpiece - and though they are seen in all of Poland, they are known especially from the Łowicz region, which known for its rich folklore, by the way. The reference to spiders are to do with the way you typically string the round, horizontal part of it, from the center and outwards - but is also, some say, a biblical reference; apparently it is good luck to have at least one spiderweb in your house, since Mary, Joseph and the baby Jesus were protected from discovery, while hiding in a cave, by - a spiderweb! (that was news to me, but I usually have no shortage of spiderwebs in the house...)

Traditionally they are made with straw and tissue paper, but I can see that colorful plastic straws, candy wrappers, yarn pompoms and perhaps paper flowers or petals made super quickly with a figure punch, if you have one of those, are a great start for the modern day Pajaki-maker.

You can get all the materials needed in any little hobby shop or even supermarket. You will need a sturdy metal or plastic hoop - and if you can't come up with any quick fix (they sell plastic ones in hobby shops for making mobiles), take a wire hanger and a pair of pliers, clip off the handle, and use the remaining bit to make yourself a nice, strong hoop.

Giant pajaki from the Folk Museum in Leczyca (photo: Magic Madzik, via Flickr)

From the blog 'Gus and other things'

Homemade mini pajaki from the blog 'WREN handmade'


A great excuse for some George Clooney (as if you'll need one)

When I wished Yayoi Kusama a happy birthday on Saturday, I felt I had to limit the amount of images to a nice selection, just enough to get people curious, if they were not familiar with her. So I didn't post these fantastic ones of George Clooney, styled and staged by Yayoi herself (photographer: Emma Summerton). Too bad, I thought, cause they are so cool. But I'll just post them today instead, ha ha. 

They are from the December 2013 art issue of W Magazine, where five female artists had their way with the dapper George - and there is a interview with him as well. See the lot of it, right here!

He proves, once again, that he looks insanely good and completely at ease, no matter the situation.


Happy birthday Yayoi Kusama

(film still from Princess of Polka Dots, a documentary in the making, see more here)

One of my favourite artists, Japanese Yayoi Kusama, is 85 years old today, so let's have a little birthday celebration here! This great little colorful Japanese lady is still active, and as far as I can see (it took a little weird google translate from japanese), she participates in an art festival in Japan, opening on April 10th, and did a huge solo exhibition in New York last year, with series of enormous, psycedelic canvases, massive room installations, videos and whatnot. Her work is all over the world, and right here in my local modern art museum, Louisiana, there is a permanent Yayoi Kusama room installation, which is one of the most breathtakingly beautiful (and slightly vertigo-inducing) works you can see there.

(Gleaming Lights of the Souls, Louisiana, Denmark)

When you look at her work you see a sort of reckless, almost intoxicating, joyfullness, a wild and humourous love of color and of simple graphic statements (especially polka dots!), repeated and stretched to an almost impossible scale - but the story of her own life is that of a woman a little less happy go lucky than you might think. She was born in a bourgeois Japanese family, and started studying classical Japanese painting, at a very young age. She rebelled against that and her whole background, and ventured to the US in the fifties to become one of the most important avant garde artists of her generation, working not only in painting and sculpture, but as a tireless anti war activist, feminist and political performance artist. She stayed in the states for most of the sixties and seventies, and was a huge influence on many younger artists, such as Andy Warhol.

(from a 1967 performance in Woodstock)

She has had a rocky life and a vulnerable soul, and in the seventies she decided that it was best for her to let herself voluntarily commit to an institution for the mentally ill, back in her native Japan - and that is where she still lives and works today. She has her studio nearby, and comes and goes as she pleases.

Read much more here and here. And now, let's look at her fantastic art....

Some of her signature polka dot installation work - the last image is from the show in New York, 2013

Here, below, are some of her paintings in the 'infinity' style, where she expands a simple motif on and on and on, and creates these dizzying, swirling patterns. Infinity and space are important themes in her art.

The pumpkin is another theme, and she has made many of them - she explains that they are both symbolical self portraits and childhood memories. Her family were well off merchants, and in a (war)time of food shortage in most of Japan, she remembers warehouses full of local produce, such as these pumpkins, she has depicted again and again. Here is a large scale fibreglass pumpkin from the nineties, on the end of a pier in Naoshima, Japan:

The last picture is one I found long ago and I bookmarked, not even realizing it was Yayoi Kusama, but simply because it is such a lovely portrait of a serious little girl. When I clicked on the image and read more about it, I saw who it was! The photographer is unknown (as far as I have been able to find out), but she is ten years old here, the young Yayoi. Yayoi is a traditional Japanese March girls name (it is the old Japanese name for the month of March), and means 'full life'.


Spring equinox and appropriate footwear

It is spring equinox today (have you seen Google today? So pretty!), and the last time I wrote about astronomical issues such as this, I got things mixed up a bit - so today I will let Wikipedia do the talking, and just express my deep satisfaction about the longer and perhaps even sunnier days ahead of us.

Since I got acquainted with the absolutely fabuleux Louis Philippe, I have had such a jelly sandal flashback. I used to love them in the eighties and nineties, and have had them in many colors. As a young design student, I was a summer intern in a very high-tech-mad-professor like company (they worked with fibre optics and that sort of thing), and I was in one of my jelly-wearing phases. Now, in this company, they had a special kind of linoleum floors in the corridors, and my jellies made this high squeaky sound when I went about my business, and all the tech guys thought I was the most exotic and hilarious intern ever. They even nicknamed my footwear 'dejskraberne'  which is quite funny in danish, but translates poorly. A 'dejskraber' is the kind of rubber spatula you use to get the last of the cake batter out of the bowl!

Imagine my spring delirium and joy when I browsed a bit about the other day....! Now the only thing is which ones to choose, because easter chicken yellow is definitely the color I am feeling, jellywise.

I found both pairs right here: Asos


Copenhagen yesterday

Yesterday was rainy and cloudy here, but my friend Kalinka Agger uploaded this beautiful snapshot in her instagram feed, and let me borrow it. She took it from the tower of Vor Frue Kirke, and yes, there it is again; The Round Tower. I love how the red and green roofs pop out, even in this dull light.

Self restraint

I managed to spend an entire day at a flea market and purchase (almost) only this and make a bit of money at the same time. Okay, to be honest I also bought a cheap cotton dress and a small cardboard box. Plus two small gifts for my sweet little niece, but that really doesn't count. 

I guess it's an easter egg and I thought it was just too amazing to pass. It cost about ten Danish kroner. Somebody has glued those hundreds of seed beads onto a polystyrene egg, and they are not strung on thread, as one might think. What a job!

It reminds me of Hundertwasser! I had to turn it a couple of times to properly display it...


Flea Market in the Round Tower, Copenhagen

It's spring cleaning time, and for me, that also means flea market time, as in going to one as a seller rather than a purchaser (that happens often enough, for the rest of the year!). So I am packing up bags and boxes to go to the annual Flea Market in the Round Tower, here in Copenhagen. 

Now this place is a slightly crazy venue for a flea market, but that is just what I like about it. The tower itself is - as perhaps you know - a very unusual renaissance church tower, at the Trinitatis Church smack in the middle of central Copenhagen. It was built between 1637 and 1642. If you have been here, you will know it:

The tower is unusual because it has a spiral ramp instead of a staircase, and one of the better explanations for this, is that it made the building of the church itself much easier (the tower was built first), because building material was easy to cart up the ramp. It has a still working astronomy observatory at the top deck (which you can visit - I saw Halleys comet there!), and that too was easier to finish via the spiral ramp, because the equipment needed there was so heavy and fragile.

The flea market is held in the large attic space over the church, but the only way to get there, is via the ramp, and vendors carry all their knicknacks up on foot. So you don't sell very heavy items on this market!

The tower is truly a fun and magic place, every child from around here has done this, several times:

You would just bolt down at full speed, and man, could you run fast, down that ramp! Do you see the niche in the wall, in the right side of the picture? The tower has several of these, and my dad used to hide in them and pop out and go 'BOO!!' at us running kids.

Here is another fun story: in 1971 legendary Danish racing cyclist Ole Ritter made a bet (one thousand Danish Kroner!) with colleague Leif Mortensen about ascending the tower on bike - fastest man won. Ole Ritter won at 55,3 seconds, and if you have been there, this will really impress you!

Well, I am glad I don't have to race my stuff up on bicycle, I will take it at a leisurely stroll. And people do manage to fill the space up rather impressively well, as you can see here, in an image from last year. It is open Saturday from 10.00 to 16.00, stop by!


More gems

Apropos the paper minerals from the other day, I felt like showing you something from my personal, sort of utopian, wishlist. A few years ago I worked with a lady that had the most spectacular silk scarf. One day I persuaded her to take it off, and spread it out on a table, so that I could really study it in all its glory - and I fell even more in love. It is a 1959 Hermès scarf, 'Mineraux', designed by one of the most famous Hermès artists; Hugo Grygkar. I think it is just fantastic, a wearable work of art (as are many of the Hermès scarves). It is sometimes re-issued, and is of course madly expensive. Vintage, even more so. But one can dream, right? 

The design is really beautifully drawn and printed on the silk, click here to study a larger image.

If you are on a more limited budget, like most of us are, you could try & Other Stories - they have gone gem-crazy as well, and have this very pretty silk dress and headband right now (the print even comes as an umbrella!)


Time to start your mineral collection

I am a hoarder of images of all kinds, and the other day I came across a folder filled with the most glorious pictures of all kinds of minerals; agate, malachite, granite and many more. I had completely forgotten about these, but they kept occupying my mind, so yesterday, when I opened another folder with all my beloved paper templates for making all kinds of cubes, boxes, pyramids and so on, it just struck me. I must make myself some paper minerals! And, yes, of course: you get to make them too! 

Get the PDF here. You'll need sharp scissors, a bit of glue, and about an hour to make them.