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Last weekend, I joined Friends of the Kezar Triangle for a picnic in San Francisco. The lovely Sam and Carla invited me to contribute a participatory art project to the event, and I came up with a set of modular picnic blankets that can be easily re-configured for different size groups. In this post, I'll share a few sneak-peeks at the design process and share some photos of the finished blanket system. Oh, and one other important detail--this little park doubles as a gopher field!
The Design Concept
This system of small triangle shaped blankets allows for flexibility in terms of how many people want to sit together. It is also, of course, fun to arrange and re-arrange them into crazy shapes! It's sort of like tangrams in kindergarten (remember those?), but giant sized.
Field Testing (pun intended)
It worked! There's still some finishing to do on the blankets, but I was able to get all the triangles cut in time for a first test at the November 6 picnic.
And here's the very best part: one of every three triangles in the blanket set (24 total) have holes the same size as the real gopher holes that are all over the park. They serve as a standing invitation for the gophers to "join" us at our picnic. And truly, not just the gophers, but the trees and the insects and the birds and all the creatures that share this park. Worms too. It's a peaceful gesture that embodies a compassionate and playful relationship with nature.
To emphasize this gesture, everyone gets to join in (at future events as well) and embroider designs around the holes in the blankets (in soil-colored thread). The embroidery work is sort of like a tiny welcome mat - a design that marks the meeting of two worlds. Of course, a real gopher is unlikely to use one of these holes, but it's the gesture that we love and the many peaceful practices that such a gesture encourages and inspires. Nevertheless, we thought it was fun to line up the blanket holes with the real gopher holes in the grassy field just in case.
Yes! A real live gopher suddenly poked its little head up through one of the blanket holes! Carla and I were sitting on the blanket next to this red one and I practically jumped to the moon and back with joy and excitement. And of course, I'm ecstatic that Carla caught the little visitor with her camera. Note: This hole still needs embroidery - maybe you'll join us at the next picnic and add some?
The gopher must have seen one of Sam's sweet hand-drawn event posters, as he popped up right about 3pm, more promptly than most of the humans.
You'll find plenty more examples of our custom work here, and you can keep up with Friends of the Kezar Triangle on their Facebook page. Thanks Carla & Sam for the chance to be creative and playful with you!
If you've received one of our World's Smallest Packages in the last few months, you've got a genuine copy of The Small Times newspaper in your hands. As part of our recent collaboration with Chronicle Books to produce the World's Smallest Post Service stationery set, we created this itty bitty fictional newspaper. And it's not just the newspaper that's small, but every article and image is tiny themed too! Thanks to Jason Sacher, my wonderful editor at Chronicle Books, for daring to approve the inclusion of this totally unnecessary, but ultimately incredible, addition to the stationery set.
Here's what The Small Times looks like all crumpled up in one of our World's Smallest Packages:
Call for Submissions
We began with an open call for submissions among our wonderful circle of friends - for articles, advertisements, classifieds, whatever their whimsy might dictate. Thanks to all the lovely folks who submitted! I wrote about half of the content and the rest was written by the following awesome guest contributors. Thanks so much y'all!
Hand Drawn Graphics
Once the tiny-themed articles were in, we needed some stunning imagery to spice up the look. This is where our dear friend Sam Bower came to the rescue with his series of tiny drawings. Here's an oversized taste of the magic he worked with a skinny little ink pen:
Words & Clues
And it wouldn't be a genuine newspaper without a crossword puzzle, right? I had no idea how I was going to pull that one off until I discovered the amazing CrosswordPuzzleGames.com, which will automatically generate crosswords for you from a list of words and clues. Wow! The best part? Every crossword clue and answer is tiny themed! Here's my working sketch:
Getting It All Just Right
So at this point we've got text, illustrations, and a miniature crossword puzzle. It all came together in the following draft layout, which I submitted to Chronicle Books for review:
And here's what the super amazing Chronicle Books graphic designer Kirsten Hewitt did with my draft. This is a scan of the final version, printed on real newsprint for maximum effect:
And a few close-ups...
In case you want to get ahold of some of these tiny newspapers, you'll find four copies of it rolled up in each World's Smallest Post Service stationery set. Or you can order a teeny tiny package for your very own hand-crumpled copy of The Small Times.
Extra! Extra! Read all about it! (With a magnifying glass!)
I've always loved the simple game of memory. There are so many whimsical and artistic variations on this playful theme -- the possibilities are literally endless. Inspired by my ongoing Changing Clothes project, I decided to craft a memory game set using vintage clothing tags and an old favorite shirt.
The shirt material is carefully hand-stitched onto the reverse side of each tag, so that they all look the same when laid out face down. This design is fun because you have an additional clue when trying to make matches - the size and shape! To get started, you lay everything out tag-side down, just like any other memory game.
Making the Match
If you turn over two clothes tags where the garment was made in the same country, you get to take that pair and keep it in your pile. You also get to go again whenever you make a match. Take turns finding matches, or missing them, until the board is clear. Whoever has the most clothes tags in their pile wins! Of course, winning is really beside the point but the competition is always fun.
If you want to play, but aren't up for all the sewing, just cut a bunch of tags off of old (or new) clothes and use them as is. Try to pull together a really rich collection of tags so that plenty of different countries are represented in your game. If you make your very own set of memory clothes tags, please email me a photo!
If you really dig clothes tags (like I do!) check out the rest of my Changing Clothes project, including the tag exchange. Also, check out one of my very favorite mass-produced memory game sets, the Eames Memory Game.