I'm Julia Allen, a designer in Napa,
California. This blog is my place for
gathering and sharing inspiration.
It's also where I can share ideas and
processes for my design work.
(and sometimes, you might just see
a posting for the rant, of just because
a moment needed to be shared.)
Please feel free to say hello &
share your tendencies at
What I can say is that the process of working on the photoshoot was such a fun event. We totally hit the ground running, being that we didn't have much time to get them done. Between Frisk's Biz Development/PR Wiz Shae Kinsman, our models and Megan Reeves behind the lens... the rapid series of shots accomplished in one day was really quite remarkable! We made it look so easy, and maybe because of luck, some of the shots were... but I like to think it was because of the magic behind the team in how well we "got" each other. Plus, a little Elton John's "Tiny Dancer" got us off in the right direction. :)
Estimate for launch of new website... October. Hang on til then! It will be bad.ass!
Replied my Aunt Mary in a text when I asked what she and family would like to drink with their fancy meats I plan on shipping ahead of me in September. One forgets, that the rest of the world does not care if your steak goes with a Zinfandel, Petite Syrah or an outlandish Cabernet Sauvignon. A good ol' Miller Light will do just fine. (Gulp! the fancy beer lover in me will have to suffice).
The irony in all of this is... I do beer too. Unless I am showing a friend around town, in Napa Valley.. I don't drink much wine either. It's usually a Lagunitas... Little Sumpin' or their IPA, a Pliny, maybe even a Smithwick's or Guinness. Or... a Gin & Tonic. Always, a go to. Hence, when I got that reply... I laughed my ass off.
The last few months have been so amazingly unbelievable. What started as an innocent querry into my paternal lineage... to see the relative who actually immigrated from Ireland... opened doors I didn't realize I would open. Seeing some of my family members in Chicago early June, after 30 years hiatus, was a blessing. Of course, to hear the stories... even more fantastic! And then there's Facebook. I hit the motherload (or fatherload) with tapping on a few old cousin's shoulders by friending them. And it has certainly been a joy ride! What soon came to be discovered were the names and people, who I now know as my half sisters. I've started the beautiful journey of getting to know one of them, and hope the same can happen with my other half sister. Photos and stories keep flowing. What happened in the past, will stay in the past for me... but what I fully embrace today is that I have two half siblings, where I thought I had no more. Half siblings with whom I can share this life with... and, share them with those dear to me. That is all that matters.
A few pics... now I have a peek into what my son might look like. He's a dead ringer for my father (he passed away in 1974), aside for the fat lip Liam received while playing too hard, my mouth dropped open the moment I saw this young picture of my father. Uncanny, even down to the cow lick!! Funny how your DNA skips down. And it's official. I've been told I have Roger's nose, forehead and freckles (and, it seems an appreciation for beer.)
“A Place to Gather is about a respect for the power of Irish material culture. It is an exploration of how design, craft, literature, film - all these different parts of our culture - can connect people, ideas and places. It is about taking a holistic approach to Ireland’s material culture.” – Jonathan Legge, Curator
I can honestly say, connected for me it was. The vignettes of each artist/craft person motioning through their sacred cocoon of creation— of what their hands expertly and automatically operated is layered with thought-provoking dialogue. I find it fascinating... to hear them reveal their daily struggles of working with their Crafts and how those same struggles became the intrinsic quality of their romance of Craft-making. Perhaps even more importantly, it's the vehicle for which they learn and discover more about themselves.
Here, Craft has a much bigger meaning, more than what most of us realize, as the word has been simplified and applied to the notion of an innocent, every person's afternoon of art-making. That craft is sweet and fun, endearing too. Their Craft, their forefathers' Craft is different, deep and in my opinion, the most over-looked. A Craft that has taken them, to surrender their life to the sole purpose of making and doing at such high levels of precision.
It's so comforting to hear and see how personal one becomes in the creation of something. Yes, connected we all are in this. I am still smiling at what the basket weaver said... some passionate words coming from a sweet grandmotherly woman... I hope I never loose that fire in the belly when I get that old too.
I've written out some of the dialogue below. Being able to dwell on what they said and watch the video a few times created a ripple effect so wonderful! Enjoy!
Wood worker I like to use the knots, I of kind like because it gives more character. The product is quite a clean design so we do like to put a small bit of character if we can get a funny defect here or there. I quite like to use it. The thoughts of where my ideas come from?… They're just as much coming from architecture, sculpture and music as they are coming from anything else. Architecture is frozen music.
If I'm working at sixty-eight inches wide, there's eleven thirds to an inch both ways and lengthwise, and these robes are of a seventy-four inches length, and an have eight inch fringe, so the machine comes across directly across a seventy with a four and half fringe. This thing wool garmet here, I could actually could do seven days a week twelve hours a day.
I've spent my life picking up nails off the ground and straightening them because that is what my father use to do. ....You don't know whether you're going to be good at it, you have to become good at it
so whether a person has determination to learn, whether they have they have the burning desire to learn to make baskets is the REAL thing.
It's been likened to twisting honey up onto a spoon. It's a similar kind of consistency. And the whole way through the process it's about trying to balance it and trying to guide the hot glass in certain directions. I first worked out in the factory when I was in transition here. We were doing some work basements and it was just one of the ones I opted to do. I've been here almost ever since.
Ceramist I would use a kind of porcelain, it's a beautiful material to kind of use. it's quite a difficult material to throw because it tends to have a mind of its own. And so, it tends to warp or kind of crack. Or whether it kind of works, its a lovely material. My work would be quite refined, I wouldn't really decorate it, though it's more about the simplicity and minimalism. You know and that kind of showing more the kind of form in the material and the slight imperfection and subtle differences in each piece. There does seem to be more a lot more interest from the art world and design world, and there does seem to be a lot more opportunities for young designers…
Yesterday was our 40th and our first birthday apart.
A deep calling and need for soiltude and I found it walking Grace Cathedral's Labrynth in San Francisco. Entering its meandering path was met with emotional sadness, to go back into the memories of loss and separation. The center felt timeless where I paused, for a long while. Then, my first step, of coming out of it, much like my entry into this world—first born, but without John. Ironic to think that he was born all black and blue, from me kicking my way out. Foretelling? I wonder. I paused more, along the way... realizing it is time to move forward into this different being, me and as one. I am me, yet will always be a part of him.
Today, again in solitude, I heard the cry of a hawk. Not a kestrel, but above, in the skies over me were a pair of red tails circling and crying out: "Happy Birthday Julia". Thank you John... for being my twin brother, and celebrating this life with me. I'll always love you. See you on the other side one day.
Spanish illustrator Xavi
Garcia created his stunning ‘Handmade’ banknote illustration as a
reaction to soulless digital design. “This note pretends to remind the
viewer the amount of work, hours, patience and love that artisans put
into the handicrafts they produce and stress how valuable they are,
replacing currency for the amount of time spent working on it (3 months
were given for this project). Entirely drawn by hand, using different
printing techniques, it features security measures common in banknotes
such as watermarks, tactile elements, see-through images and invisible
UV ink.” On the front it says “Tempus Neminem Manet” meaning “Time waits
for no one” and on the back it reads “Tempus Fugit” meaning “Time
Flees.” As you stare at his work, it makes you wonder about the world it
may have come from… and i love the concept of time as currency. After
all ~ Time is Money, right? How nice would it be to be paid with one of
these 3 month notes? How would you spend it? See the details up close on
the next page…
Drypoint, screenprint and stamps on newsprint.
Dutch artist, Anouk Griffioen (1979) notes preferably in large format and with great expression.
In soft gray, she is Avant-Garde Woman on Paper.
Poses and attitudes of role models which at first seem to be strong women, yield to more of the opposite in which the predominant emotion is loneliness, pain, fear and frustration— magnified in its scale. What remains is emptiness, shame and inaction perhaps, where the women go into their background and are only in their own world.
If there ever was an artist who could inspire me to desire big blank walls, it would be Anouk. I am so coveting some bare walls to dabble in pencil on paper over here.