Pool Noodles

pool noodle art

I’m a big fan of pool noodles. They allow lots of lounging in water without exerting yourself. I however have not before seen pool noodle art!

“Hundreds of pool noodles invaded an abandoned alley in Quebec City, Canada as part of Delirious Frites, an architectural art installation created by Les Astronautes.”

I’ve always loved a good installation. This one is for sure on my list of ones I want to experience in person! What was the last great installation you saw?

Continue Reading

Top 5 reasons bossy women make awesome friends

Little Miss Bossy

Over the past year, thanks largely to Sheryl Sandberg, Tiny Fey, Sophia Amoruso and Amy Poehler the term bossy has become a hot topic. Mainly for being called out for being a derogatory and sexist term. Movements like Ban Bossy state sad truths such as: When a little boy asserts himself, he’s called a “leader.” Yet when a little girl does the same, she risks being branded “bossy.”

About a year ago I was called bossy by a woman whom I have know for many, many years and had not seen in at least a decade. It felt like I had been slapped in the face when she said it, especially as she meant it as an insult. All I could think was that I had not been called bossy since I was a little girl, because for my entire adult life, I was no longer considered “bossy”, I was simply the boss. I’m still pissed off about it, and even more irritated that little girls are continuing to be put down for being natural leaders.

As I know so many awesomely bossy women whom I adoringly call wonderful friends, I decided to sum up the top 5 reasons why it so awesome to both be bossy and have bossy women as friends:

1. Time is never wasted figuring out what the plan is because a bossy woman will always step up immediately and make sure one is in place. Note that if more than one bossy woman is in the group, there is never a conflict over this task, bossy woman love other bossy woman, as long as a plan is being made, a bossy woman could care less who is doing it.

2. Bossy women get shit done.

3. If you have a problem or need advice and you turn to a bossy woman, she will make sure that you are provided with the correct information/contact person/place to go. She will usually also take it upon her self to make all necessarily introductions and connections to facilitate this.

4. Need to address a large crowd of people at a moments notice, grab the nearest bossy woman. She most likely thrives at both public speaking and has no problem coming up with a solution to your problem on the fly.

5. In the time of a crisis or emergency, a bossy woman will save your life. She is usually prepared for anything and is known for skills #1-4.

Now go on out there and surround yourself with as many bossy woman as you can and men: if you’re really smart, you’ll marry one!

p.s. were you as big a fan of the Roger Hargreaves books as I was? I never realized there were so many!?!

Roger Hargeaves Characters

Continue Reading

Material inspiration

sharpies in the manic trout studio I was staring adoringly into the cup of sharpies on my desk yesterday when I started thinking about how much the materials used to make art inspire so much creativity themselves. I can’t even begin to count the amount of times that I have over come a lapse in creativity simply by looking at a box of colorful gemstones. Its the easiest way to set myself off on a design binge, cover my desk in materials and bam! I’m off and running.  When I moved to Austin a few years ago, I had to go through a major possession purge so that I could fit all of my belongings into a pod and moving it 2000 miles. There was also a very emotional last minute, we ran out of space and now I have to let go of a few of my favorite worldy possessions because the movers would not unpack the packed pod to fit these things, such as a chair I have had since I was young that I am obsessed with and my easel. I’ll admit, I may have cried a few times these past few years over the lose of these two things even though they are just things, but they are very sentimental things. The chair is irreplaceable and the easel was what I painted on at the end of art school and for my duration as a professional painter (which did not last that long, but still…it was an important landmark in my creative journey). I know they are just things and I have almost gotten over it but they were my favorite things. Somehow during the chaos of having to leave these things behind, I lost the box of “dry” art materials. All of my pencils (there were SO many!), charcoal, pastels etc disappeared into thin air. Again, just things and very replaceable things, but there was something about the boxes of half used chalk pastels that every time I looked at them I wanted to throw myself into making something, anything…I just wanted to get my hands on them. I have tried many times to re-buy the pastels, but I just can’t bring myself to bring home those boxes of shiny new, un broken pastels. It was one things to add a new a box to the mix, but to have all brand new pieces…eh. Sometimes the materials we reach for over and over again, the ones that show the patina of years of work are the ones that take us to that creative place the fastest. Don’t believe me? Check out the photos below that artists have snapped of their well loved materials…so much beauty and inspiration in them! material inspiration 1

material inspiration 2

material inspiration 3

material inspiration 4

material inspiration 5

material inspiration 6

material inspiration 7


images via

Continue Reading

Being a starving artist vs running a successful business


A few weeks ago I was watching a new show where the guy from Cake Boss goes into failing bakeries and helps them succeed…similar to Restaurant Impossible and Hotel Impossible (both of which I love). Anyway Buddy looked at the guy who refused to sell cupcakes in his “Authentic Italian Bakery” and explained that cupcakes were the not only the number one baked good seller in the country, but that his customers wanted them. He then asked the guy  “Do you want to be a starving artist or do you want to be a successful business owner?”. The baker thought it over and declared that he wanted to run a successful business and decide to add more of the American style baked goods, including cupcakes to his menu. His creative side stayed strong however as he created his signature cannoli cupcake that brought his vision to the cupcakes. That scene and in particular, that question, hit home hard for me and has been on my mind ever since.

You see, I went to a pretty big art school and it was divided up into two camps…the studio arts where you were creating art for arts sake and the commercial arts that understood a job would be in your future. I majored in 3d animation and minored in painting, so this gave a unique perspective on both camps. Both sides however fell under the mind set of large universities. You’re there to get en education, not to learn a trade and be trained for a job. In fact, its something like 6% of BFA recipients go on to have a career creating art. The downside of being educated for the sake of an education is that it made us see making money from selling your art as evil which is pretty unfair (the whole concept of selling out is a double edged sword for creatives). But the upside is that I did receive a wonderful education as a fine artist. Now years later I have settled into life as a professional designer, and have completely abandoned my initial goal of being a painter.  At one point I reached a crossroads and had to make decision of which way I wanted to go, art for arts sake, or commercial and have the life of a designer.  As I felt as though I was selling my soul by commercializing the paintings I was creating, I chose designer, removed the paintings from my website in 2010 and  went full steam ahead with jewelry as I didn’t have the same emotional attachment to it and could commercialized better.

It often pains me that I now am a professional designer with no more “artist” any where in the description. I understand that I am designing jewelry to sell, but the art for arts sake creative little bean in me is still in there and more often than not tries to take over. I even sometimes you have to tell the starving artist inside to just shut the hell up. I’m not sure I really know the point I’m making here, except to open up and talk about this the struggle as I know I am not alone. Being a small business owner is tough enough in that you have to wear multiple hats a day, but as the designer and producer of the products your selling, there is a constant battle between the inner artist who just wants to let her muse take over and disregard what anyone else thinks and the business person who sees what the customer wants and knows she should be cranking that out. I suppose that the truly successful are those that can find the perfect balance of both, who can make a great deal of money by creating what is both in demand and comes from the heart. That is what we modern artists aim to do…to find that sweet spot where we feel like we’re not selling our souls in order to have financial security.  This is what I’ve been thinking about a lot lately and what all of my deep thoughts have been about.

Continue Reading

Jewelry Deconstructed

Jewelry Deconstructed: The Never Forget You Bracelet from Manic Trout
Jewelry Deconstructed: The Never Forget You Bracelet

One day I was playing around with the materials for a bracelet and realized how pretty everything looked when I laid it out in the style of Things Organized Neatly. I pulled out a piece of black velvet, put it all together, snapped a photo on my phone and put it on instagram. I liked it so much that I have done two more since then and suddenly, a new series was born. I’d like to have little books printed and make one for each collectionI design. I love how easy it is to do something like that…make a book of something. Isn’t technology grand?

Jewelry Deconstructed: Learn To Fly Necklace from Manic Trout
Jewelry Deconstructed: Learn To Fly Necklace

The pieces are often as beautiful as the finished product, don’t you agree?

Jewelry Deconstructed: Caipora Friday Fun Earrings from Manic Trout
Jewelry Deconstructed: Caipora Friday Fun Earrings

I post them first on Instagram with #jewelrydeconstructed and then later in the week on this Pinterest board if you want to follow along!

Continue Reading

Art that makes you question if its art

Christo and Jeanne-Claude, Wrapped Trees, Fondation Beyeler and Berower Park, Riehen, Switzerland 1997-98.
Christo and Jeanne-Claude, Wrapped Trees, Fondation Beyeler and Berower Park, Riehen, Switzerland 1997-98.

I have always had a love for art that makes you look at it and wonder if it’s art or not. I’m not talking about street art type things, but more of the wrapped trees variety above. How gorgeous are these trees? I know that to see them in person would be such a different experience then a small photo on a blog, but I love it none the less. Installations have always been high on my list of favorite types of art, and I swear the fact that Magda Sayeg, the founder of Knitta Please was based out of Austin is what made me first want to live here many years ago. I keep a board of them on pinterest (of, course) and am always delighted when I stumble across an unexpected installation in my path.

Peeks at a few of my favorite installations (see details in Pinterest)
Peeks at a few of my favorite installations (see details in Pinterest)

One of my favorites that I visited in NYC when I was in high school (and it still exists!!) is The Earth Room. Its basically an apartment in SoHo that has been filled with nothing but 22 inches of dirt and has remained that way for three decades. It was actually created the year I was born and hopefully will last as long as I do. The Dream House was also a favorite, but that seems to be closed at the moment. I’ve noticed over the years that installations are not for everyone, even some my classmates in art school hated them. But those who love them, like myself, never get over the delight of experiencing them and are glad that art like this exists.

Continue Reading

A love affair with floor plans

carrie bradshaw apartment floor plan

When I was about 10, my childhood bff and I used to draw floor plans as a hobby and paint them with water colors. I had an entire binder of these plans and they included awesome details such as diving boards off of 2nd floor balconies into massive pools below. Years later when I was in Architecture school I was introduced to the reality of what a floor plan really involved and no longer thought they were so fun (cross sections of oak trees can suck it!). And then I saw the work of Iñaki Aliste Lizarralde . He creates intricate and beautiful drawings of the dwellings of tv show characters. From The Golden Girls to The Simpsons to Dexter, the blueprints span decades of tv shows and a few films and made the 10 year old girl still inside me squeal with delight that the blueprints of my dreams were being created for so many familiar places. You’ll find the oodles of drawings available as prints on Etsy in a few sizes to the delight of the sitcom fanatic and doodle lover in us all. Which is your favorite?

Continue Reading

Playing tourist in your own city

Greetings from Austin Mural

A few weeks ago, a friend of mine was preparing to  move away and it was decided that to celebrate her leaving, we wanted to snap a few shots in front of the most photographed back drops in Austin to remember both the group of us and this awesome city by. As we wanted to do this on our way to dinner we didn’t want to take forever, so we decided to keep it to two locations. The Greetings from Austin mural off of S 1st and the I Love You So much graffiti on the side of Jo’s Coffee on South Congress.

The girls in front of the Greetings from Austin mural

The mural was a no brainer…how could we not? The I Love You So Much sign however has a bit more meaning…we all met across the street from that wall when we set up at for a Saturday market on South Congress. We’ve spent hundreds of hours chatting away away the street from it and watched thousands of people pose in front of those words and therefore it was the perfect backdrop to bid our farewell to Andrea.

The girls in front of the I Love You So Much wall in Austin

Do you ever play tourist in your own city besides showing people around? We had a great time and I’m so glad we did it…just look at how cute those photos are!!


photos courtesy of Amy Barber

Continue Reading