Bring an Office to Life

Who does your office say you are? When people look at your office, or cubicle, or perhaps your desk among all the others, what statement are you making about yourself?

Family photos are signs of a mom or dad. Unicorns are signs of a fantasy dreamer with a sense of humor. Calendars are signs of the well-organized. Do you notice these little things when you go to the desks, cubicles, or offices of others? Sure you do, we all do, whether we are conscious of it or not.

My office says that I am utilitarian. I have my tools around me: books, papers, pens, pencils, brushes, canvas, and camera. But on the wall next to me? I hang my 6’x6’ painting. It is big, bright, and bold. People who know I’m an introvert sometimes laugh to find I paint so boldly, but it is also who I am.

Not everyone can have a 6’x6’ painting where they work, but everyone can have coordinating pieces of desk supplies that might give a clue that you are more than you seem.

At Volcano Alley Creative Group, our goal is to provide products that show your style in your spaces: work, home, and out-and-about.

by :: Min

Decorative Arts

We all have a traditional fabric or jewelry in our past, whether we know what it is or not. Many young people are not connected to their family traditions and roots, many might not even know what their heritage is, but everyone has them because this is how we use to live. Our great-great grandparents came from a certain region of the globe and in that region were specific ways to dress, dance, write music, cook and everything in their daily life revolved around the traditions of that particular area.

My mother’s family is Scandinavian, some southern Norwegian and some northern Norwegian, including Sami. The colors are bright and beautiful and the needlework is sublime. I am not so fond of many of the dishes they serve (Lutefisk, oh my goodness!), but the artwork is amazing. The music is upbeat and makes you want to get up and dance.

We don’t have too many traditions left in the world, it seems that everything is just turning into a monochrome of sameness, everywhere you go it is becoming the same. Sad, having a regional identity is a way to connect with the past generations, which are also being forgotten.

But on certain days we stop and remember a bit of our heritage by dress or drink or dinning. Be it green beer on St. Patrick’s Day, enchiladas on Cinco de Mayo, sausages at October Fest, or lefsa on Leif Erickson day, we have a little fun remembering that while as people we are all the same, we are also people who come from places and cultures around the world and we all add a bit of spice to life.

: : by Sarah

Holiday Lights

When you think of Christmas, what comes to your mind? Trees? Santa? Stockings hanging ready to be filled? Birth of Christ? Angels? Shepherds? Caroling? Parties? Shopping? Lights?

The season is full of so many things but the one thing we see just about everywhere we go are Christmas lights! Neighborhoods are awash in brilliant colors—now, even rhythmic flickering lights. Downtown streets are covered in arches created by strings of lights. Lights glow around the city center Christmas tree. Indoors, lights glow from the tree, the candles, and the fireplace.

Holiday Lights

Christmas trees lights splashed across the walls one year. We’d never seen anything like it before, but that year our folks had a new tree. As the light grew dim outside [As night crept near] the tree lights began glowing ever brighter and brighter, moving out from the tree to encompass everything around it. It was amazing! Those little bulbs spread magnificent colors up onto the walls and plants. I called everyone in to take a look while I grabbed the camera to make a record of the sight. We all oohed and aahed for a while and enjoyed it all season. It is now the inspiration for our Christmas collection. We wanted to share this extraordinary phenomenon with you, so that you, too, will look for those extra little bits of excitement with your holiday.

Girly Garret

Living cute in a small space. That seems to be the fashionable way to live these days. Not only young people but also established and retired individuals and couples are downsizing to reduce the distractions in their lives. Many are choosing the “tiny homes” or lofts that offer a few hundred feet of living space over the previous thousand-to three thousand square feet former family homes. Some even create a small individual nook or cranny to call your own in the larger family home. We call this the Girly Garret because for us this is a creative space.

When living in small places the need to coordinate the furnishings becomes even more important than in the bigger places; a guest can see everything in the home the moment they walk in.

We all know our favorite colors, textures, styles although sometimes to have a professional providing a well coordinating eye can be a help. What are some of the things you love best? How can you make a space to show it off?

Often the tiny homes have limited wall space so a wall decal is a good purchase because it will stick on a cabinet or door, no nails just removable adhesive keeps the poster/print in place until you want to move it again.

Or perhaps you want to bring in touches of your colors or hobbies into your home by means of upholstery. Or throw blankets or pillows that you can change out when the mood suits you. Sometimes even dishes and towels can help coordinate your tiny space.

Earth Mirror: Light

As autumn begins to settle in we notice the days are shorter and the sunsets come earlier. Soon we will notice the colors in our neighborhoods changing from bright green into the exuberant yellow, golds, and oranges of the season. The light that shines through the golden maples is often heart-wrenching beautiful, and we all stop for a moment and pull out our cameras to capture a piece of it. Light is important.

Light is a primary feature in art. Northern light is different from southern light. Desert light is different from tundra light or mountain light. Light on cold days is different from light on hot days. All of these differences create variations in art.

Then there are categories of overcast, sunburst, and dappled light. Each type of light sets a new tone for a painting, and that light is constantly changing. When he grew older, impressionist painter Claude Monet would set up a row of canvases. Every hour he would set the painting aside to wait for the next day’s exact time to catch the same light. Then switching to the next subject in a different series, paint in that hour’s light. His Rouen Cathedral series shows his interest in capturing the beauty of each hour of the day.

Photographers know all about light, it is one reason the good ones get great photos and the rest of us get what I call “snapshots” rather than “award winners”. The same is true for all forms of art, even stained glass windows, sculpture, and architecture—when the light hits at the right angle and the right intensity we gasp at the beauty at sights we have never bothered to notice.

Sarah’s Eye

Clean lines, balanced placement, just the essentials are the marks of Sarah’s eye. After she began her wondering about Min’s eye, I began wondering about hers. Fair is fair after all, and I was curious what I would find.

I looked back at her early drawings, and later drawings, and her design work and began to notice the style. This became an easy task when our parents downsized from house to retirement home. The project allowed me to look at our old work and I began to differentiate between my old school pictures and hers with ease.

Sarah’s were drawings that told stories: there was William Tell shooting that arrow at the apple on his son’s head, there were the three pigs in their homes, and there were the ghosts of Halloween crossing our back yard. All the stories told in one image each. The characters had feet and hands and facial expressions, details were noted.

As for my old work? Sheets of just colors flowing together or layered, the suggestion of mountains by areas of pattern and color, a yellow blot of sun, a blue streak of water. A head and feet showing above and below a brightly painted garment, the hair on the head being purple, or orange or Crayola’s midnight blue.

Deconstruction Reconstruction

Deconstruction by whatever name (demolition, chaos, ruins) we use sets a stage for new things to begin. We can take the rubble that is left and form it in new and interesting ways to create something new. Nature does this all the time.

Consider a volcano. When it erupts there is ash, lava, and the lahar. We are all familiar with ash and lava, but when you live down-valley from a 14,000 foot high volcano you become well aware of the lahar: melted glaciers rush down creating rivers of debris, trees, boulders, water, and mud adding to the ingredients everything that gets in its way, buildings, homes, animals. Everything. When it stops nothing that had been there is there anymore. It is a jumble of chaotic destruction. But it doesn’t remain that way.

Over a hundred years or so, the reconstruction of the new begins to show: the boulders grind down into soil, the trees decompose and add nutrients to the soil, and the rivers of fresh clean water run though the valley. Things begin to grow. Moss, vegetation, trees, wild flowers. People move there and suddenly the valley is filled with farms with animals and crops. Our Valley, created by Mount Rainier, was filled with hops and tulips as the primary crops, a gentle flat place in the midst of foothill sloping down to Puget Sound.

Now, as progress moves forward, the valley is no longer a small town near large towns and cities. The town expands each month, the farms are gone and warehouses are built on the fertile land. Houses, apartments, business replace the hops and the tulips and other crops. No longer are there serene views out the window, but rather traffic, the highway, the trucks that come with life as we know it.

And we ask ourselves: Is it deconstruction or reconstruction? The question of our era, the question of our days.

These are the issues Volcano Alley plays with in its designs. Is it deconstruction? Reconstruction? One on the way to the other?

::by Min Jarrett

Earth Mirror

An interest in how life functions and grows and how that process is mirrored in art is one of the bases for art created by Volcano Alley Creative Group.

For instance, Min’s interest and background in painting and art history keeps her looking at the new ways art uses and rejects the prior art period. Straight, dignified, classic becomes curvy, lush, romantic. But just as quickly there is a return to something older and yet new. In Venice style “A” develops while in Florence style “B” develops, and style “C” develops in Bruges. Or we can substitute New York, Tokyo, and Mumbai. And yet, much of it is quite similar. Not only do developments, styles, and names travel around the world in seconds these days, similar issues, concerns, and joys are reflected in their art. Continue reading “Earth Mirror”