Saturday, January 28, 2012

Read of the Month: January

Please, don't get me wrong. I am far far away from all that vampire madness. I do believe that Dracula has little in common with all the modern stuff that is so popular right now. I mean, a classic is a classic after all.
It's been a long time since I've read a book so tense and intriguing. Sometimes I even imagine what would have been if I hadn't known anything about the plot beforehand. It would have been even a greater experience.
That is the only thing I don't like about classic novels. Almost every time you know a little bit of the plot and this could ruin a surprise. But even if you knew the very ending of Dracula (i don't know it yet, please don't spoil it!), reading the book would still be a great pleasure. I hold my breath at the end of every chapter, hoping all goes well with my favourite characters. I feel like I am behind the back of Mr Jonathan Harker every time he writes in his diary about the mysterious behavior of Count Dracula.
That is how you know a great masterpiece - when you feel like a part of the story. Even if you don't like vampires, you will definitely like the book.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Moo Cards!

You know things are getting serious when you have your own cards. Or not. Maybe you have just found the place I have and ordered some for free. In any case - it feels good to see your name on a card, doesn't it? Makes you feel pretty special actually.
A couple of days ago a friend of mine showed me this super cool site, where you can order a set of fifty Facebook cards, printed on beautiful thick paper and delivered to you free of charge. You can imagine the look of my face when today I found this little package in my mailbox. The cards are so gorgeous I think I am keeping all for myself. Nah, I'm kidding. But they are indeed very nice. I suggest every single one of you visit the site and make some for yourself - you will love them! It is free for a limited time only, so be quick! We might even exchange cards afterwards! :)

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

One less boring carpet.

I have seen variations of this tutorial more than a hundred times, it was about time I did it myself. I love chevron and I had a hideous creme carpet in desperate need of restyling. I took the half-priced textile paint as a sign to get some work done.
Since the accents in our new apartment are red (not my idea but oh well... I am working with what I have) I chose Karmin red textile paint. If you want to do this project you will also need a big heavy brush (I used number 20 but I suggest you go for a bigger one) and some thick duct tape. You might use paper stencils, but it will be more difficult, because they wouldn't stick to the carpet as duct tape will and you might lose the crisp line. Oh, and you will also need an ugly carpet. Or a boring one. Or one that you're already tired of.

If you seek perfection and absolute symmetry, I recommend you use a ruler for making the pattern. I did it by hand, (partially because there was not a single ruler at home) and it works well too - you will just need some extra time.
Painting on textile is not like painting on paper or canvas. The paint soaks in quickly and you have little time to spread it. You might want to have that in mind when planning how much paint you will be needing.

Textile paint dries quickly, so by the time you're painting the last line, the first ones you've done will be already dry. You can gently remove the duct tape and see if there are any imperfections that can be corrected.

And there you have it, the boring carpet is not that boring anymore. It's even cute. And a great conversation starter, too! When some nice people come to your place for a cup of black tea with milk and honey (because I make the best tea latte around!) and say "Hey, how are you, how have you been?", you can say "See the carpet over there? I decorated it!".
True story!

Sunday, January 22, 2012

A Painting Tells a Hundred Stories.

When you stare at a painting that is so well preserved, even though it is more than half a millennium old, when you look at the details so carefully that at some point all looks real... then you know you're looking at a great piece of art. A piece of history.
Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna holds a rich collection of remarkable paintings. Every single one tells a story. Some of them so intriguing, that I wanted to share with you.

Self-portrait in a Convex Mirror by Parmigianino
In 1524 Girolamo Francesco Maria Mazzola travelled to Rome seeking patronage of the Medici Pope, Clement VII. The young painter presented him with a small self portrait painted on a convex piece of wood. Although the painting was very small (only 24.4 cm in diameter) and the colour range was scarce, the concept was very clever and highly appreciated. Parmigianino was celebrated as a "Raphael reborn" and earned the patronage of the pope.

Flowers in a Wooden Vessel by Jan Brueghel the Elder
From 1600 on painting flowers developed into a separate category of still life. Jan Brueghel is one of the main representatives of this genre, with sixteen paintings of this kind attributed to him. He was nicknamed "Flower" and "Paradise" Brueghel because his floral still lifes. The "Flowers in a Wooden Vessel" is one of the most famous depictions of flowers ever created. What makes it special is that it is not a reflection of a real bouquet. It resembles an encyclopedic panorama of rare species. A virtuosic reproduction of 130 different flowers.

The Head of Medusa by Paul Rubens
With great cunning Perseus succeeded in killing Medusa, a monster whose hair consisted of snakes and whose gaze petrified all living creatures. At the time it was created (1617/18) the painting was understood politically or allegorically as a symbol of the victory of Stoic reason over the enemies of virtue.

Lot and His Daughters by Albrecht Altdorfer
"Lot and his Daughters" is one of the first nude depictions of German painting. It shows the biblical story of Lot's young daughters who get their father drunk in order to receive offspring from him. An earlier owner of the painting was ironically the Nurnberg advocate Nikolaus G├╝lchen, who was condemned to death in 1605 in charges of adultery, incest and rape.

Small self-portrait by Rembrandt
In all his life, Rembrandt painted more than sixty self-portraits. They form a unique biography of the painter, documenting not only the conditions of his life, but also, and particular, his artistic development. Every painting is a piece of the puzzle of a real genius mind.

A Collection of Art and Natural Wonders by Hans III. Jordaens
The interior of the painting is a vivid example of the type of art cabinet picture popular in Antwerp (where Jordaens worked most). Natural objects like little stones and seashells fill the tables, as well as art objects like the different sculptures and vessels. Yet paintings dominate in this room: in the seventeenth century they increasingly became the focus of collectors' interests.

The Tower of Babel by Pieter Bruegel
Bruegel's monumental composition has become the most famous, most often copied and varied classic depiction of the tower. Even in present days, the painting interests artists from all around the world. Copying it may be challenging, even for those who are lucky enough to be able to paint in front of the original. This guy, however, is a true craftsman.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Getting Fancy!

I love jewelry. I really really do. I can look around jewelry stores for hours and never get tired of it. They are just so pretty!
My only problem is... I seldom wear any. Not that I don't have tons of! Quite the opposite. I always end up buying beautiful pieces, even though I know I will probably never wear them, so I've built up a small collection. I have gorgeous feather earrings, handmade rings, cute necklaces and bracelets... stored in boxes somewhere in Bulgaria.
That is why one of my New Years' resolutions is to wear more accessories. I've collected my favourite pieces in a cute box and I've put it near the mirror, so every morning when I get ready, I can see it and pick something out of it. Do you want to see some of my most favourite ones?

1. The Owl Necklace - I love it! It's cute and detailed and very very artsy. It's my safe zone. Whenever I can't think of anything else to pick, I pick Mr. Owl. (which is 60% of the time.)
2. Indiana Jones Necklace - I don't know why I call it that way. I've never seen any Indiana Jones movie, but I always picture him with a necklace like that. And I feel like such an adventurer when I wear it, haha!
3. Chevron bracelet - I loved it from the moment I saw it, but didn't buy it immediately. (because I knew I wouldn't wear it). Then a couple of days ago I went back to the shop and saw it was half price off. I couldn't leave it standing there alone! :)
4. Dreamcatcher earrings - I used to wear earrings all the time. As a matter of fact, I used to have 4 pierced holes on my left and 5 on my right year. Now I barely stand earrings. But I can make an exception for those two!
5. Secret Key Necklace - I bought this as a present for someone and kept it for myself. When I'm not wearing the owl necklace, it's because I've chosen this over it. :)
6. Peacock necklace - a gift from the far away Georgia. It's lovely and reminds me of one of my drawings.
7. Watches - I may not wear accessories too much, but I can't leave the house without a watch. I'm just used to having it on my hand and I feel really uncomfortable when I leave it at home. I love big watches, which sometimes is a problem, because I wear them on my right hand and writing or drawing can get a little more difficult :)
8. I never wear rings. Every time I try to put one on my finger, I almost immediately take it off. That doesn't stop me from liking rings, though. Especially big ones. Roses, anyone? ;)

Tuesday, January 10, 2012


The Arsenal is a former military complex in Vienna that is now the largest military history museum in Austria.
To be honest, I am not fascinated by military history. Guns that have been used hundreds of years ago, original uniforms and hot-air ballons used by spies are all very well... but are not exactly my type of thing.

What really fascinated me was the Arsenal itself. The beautiful building is more than 150 years old and it is still preserved in its original form. It has breathtaking interior! Amazing ceiling art.
Huge paintings in neoclassicism and baroque, showing epic battles and famous emperors. It is so majestic that you can hardly believe it was made by humans.

P.S. All of the pictures above are taken with my new Nikkor Lens 10-24mm. I've wanted wide angle lens for such a long time and this Christmas my dream came true. I am so happy with the results! I love taking pictures of architecture and probably that's why me and my new buddy are inseparable. What do you think? Do you like wide angle photography?