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I am a so so cook but there is nothing more appealing to me than a well composed plate of food. This post is dedicated to the many ways one presents a dish. I’d leave the cooking technique to other’s posts. First, we feast with our eyes and surrender ourselves to our visual senses. These are dishes that have me at hello. With my tendency to make list and sort things to categories, I will try to do the same with this art.

The Zen composition.

d3e8b45a1363260bcee8785dc6a69b0b

46e8e211dfa22b0cd0879a0af703caf5

d0f54c549c839ffe674ce18d43e21c3cBrushstrokes of sauce, spare use of colors in food.

The tower – piling ingredients, one on top of another.

04ae349b25b6320ee4fd0829900dfcb6

1e5e65f3a3b83bbe42da2858f879df45

b714b8931d2be8409e203a42b6b5a806

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c571c7004dc778e92e42e28393a2fc9e

38650dcac107781b42d7131ccc0e201c

fc4dc604d652a567e99ccebd105cd72bAlways top the tower off with something eye catching!

Some food just want to be the lone island.

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39930549adff400626caa9b6353dc59f

725baba2e381a0dfef39d841b4cd2f09

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The spring garden- gather a concoction of greens and bright colors.

7ff5976a9af8c8a924c4a874defeb074

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408edd244c5f8169cf97437579e41939

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61bc01cfcac6877c1b1ffc43e88a03e9

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d63a2d261b205b007bc710f12372bd30

Food Trinity. The foodman always rings thrice.

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5e7f097d77d6b9076064db6601e9a261

639edca7ba20ca3041b876cb9b9603e0

ee67904c87d688cd6ec79d35b9d09299

f4a0bc9e6d60f746f7564f59719db3deTrios are never de trop. The first bite surprises, the second confirms and the third is savored.

Slices- They stack, they layer, they fan out.

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170ee419962ac342d16a7003995c3870

a60006d799203bb6630d173f46f19dda

9680a889dacb7080bee56731f5f3103a

62ea15a21bfebb6842a08bd035312969

82393d971e935aaf83e247c3678af8925924eec101a23a0d36b4cec240cfb3e4

7b501809a2682ff3d5dd1a418131ed32

f7e2d07d85ce5e0eb0646441a6c1141a

2938fc33217eaa9ad9c0aabfe2c16995

965ba004b2744d4003b9ca825504a324Sliced them thin, mix them  up, roll them up, pile them on…

Triffle style presentation. Use  nicely shaped glassware and voila.

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Hangar-7; Smart Food; Smart Drink

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Pure geometric shapes serve well as focal points. Cubes, egg shapes, cylinders, spheres…

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food_drink_bild

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Parallel lines – A nice graphic trick.

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Swirls, twigs, tuiles, curls, foam and spun sugar. This is how to pop a top.

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Artful dishware will always do the trick.18f8b7a2d5a88316ab095c54c38620a6

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Are we hungry yet? Don’t bother trying these at home…

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1502a1520ab6c1cff47cafa3b75fcd21

359e4b66cafa18c90c2dd4fac169e8b6

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4cbfa1a6a39c299f33a57e60e99586edSometimes, a limited palette of colors can do more for the eyes.

And finally, my version of heaven…

2a63b77da8da8bdfb8699d830b2bc3a3Foie gras Cotton Candy.  Sigh sigh sigh…

Live Edge Repertoire

Live Edge is the new black in furniture. As old growth lumber are rarer and rarer, there is a growing appreciation for live edge wood slabs used in furniture design. The sinuous lines of live edges  are hard to resist. They speak of fluidity in nature and grace in parallel grain lines that meander in river like patterns. They represent bold strokes in a singular sweep – the larger the piece the more striking. Put a slab in a room and it dominates and takes over the room.

There are quite a few clever uses of this material. One has to agree that the simpler the vessel that carries the slab, the better looking the ensemble.

The most popular use can be seen in dining tables which give us the excuse to show off a large slab.

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Live_Edge_Dining_Table_Black_Eastern_Walnut_Sentient_Furniture_New_York_42

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Another way to use a large expanse of slab is found in bed headboards.

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live edge slab headboard

Other slabs found their way in kitchen island countertops where they reign and command the view.

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Shelves are easiest to plan with wood slabs.
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Vanities- a good use for a smaller slab.

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Coffee tables.

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Benches.

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Smaller examples of live edges found in home accessories.

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And when mere furniture is not enough…

Back CameraUse them on window sills.

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b8b4a8ddb72be2ebe60ac67af07bc0b2Have live edge horizontal siding. You will have to make sure you have enough…

acd186dedd0ed7741dd4c9243f398a9cSplurge on an entire wall of cabinets.

live_edge_1Line them up along a wall.

4c83203200207762e2813ee09f28800fUse them on a curvy staircase.

55f57f8389791c332d1e43aa7d4ff8b6Make a quirky door.

0462abc076f0ddce373190abe89cdefeFinally, when nothing would suffice, make a throne.  You deserve a thoroughly royal break!

For source, click on photos.

When the weather gets worse and the mood strikes low, my mind drifts to images of impossibly beautiful places. This post is dedicated to those visions that have served me so well in letting me relax, think of good things only and revel in the wonders of life. I find that the common threads which attract me to the images are simplicity in colors, single mindedness in theme and calmness in composition. I love imagining myself inside them, savoring the weather, the light quality and the soothing impact. How therapeutic, how lounge-lazy is that? The most obvious theme would be nature. Nature brings us back to our inner instincts of self preservation. Images of immaculate natural settings do wonders to spearhead movements to save the earth. The following are my dreamscapes…

Trees- Save a tree

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Actually, while we are at it, we should save the forest- why stop at a tree.

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6871fc5fe560ec9d758612470efed43a

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efd4187c42aa814babed46a65e7fe531

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After the trees come the waterways. I am always attracted to waterfalls with its epic power, silent swishing and constancy. Their loneliness seems to permeate their surrounding  and accentuate their majestic existence.

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a83fd6add3a29a67771ed2fbd667715b

630a8349371dcb488f129176d2fd7130

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d8c477c5f5354fc22b6137a3b5aed199Beyond waterfalls, there are caves. One chances upon a cave as one opens a surprise gift. Caves are nature’s gift boxes. Handle them with care!

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312b8f5aaf7f7e624315f59868f68c2f 820d62ef8e58d513e9e93913ad628983 Rocks. Rocks are not that hardy. They can erode, people can blow them up in quarries. We have to got to see them before they no longer grace our earth. fdfc62b3b80fcc6b70deff68ca2bd386 0c3125b38b1b4db9edb47341a11004cf 0ba5a6abf7ded45e40c9ca2fe1411695 c4b10e4afae25d6547aaad8655ae2ba4 a790fdacec8094b31b52a64ac9267fb9 e4d5864bfb7836a18cb0a963a3f44d8d d5d539e137c2a0b37a989d5e9f099f28 da6c969b92eb862674fb8ed16c247f77 We must not forget how seasons affect our landscapes and really appreciate the various caprices they offer. GDT Nature Photographer of the Year 2013 7506b997a74a4cb015a0bac0a8a46802 4b8a1985b82f533961e5c69294b5950f

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To travel  in one’s mind: perchance to dream- ay, there’s a rub…

Click on photos for sources.

I have done quite a few kitchens now and the one thing that I strive for in all my kitchen designs is the island with seating on one side. It is as simple as that. Give the kitchen an island with seating on the long side away from the center of the kitchen triumvirate (range, refrigerator and sink) and voila, the first step to successful kitchen planning. When a kitchen project is done and it’s time to decorate, the first question had always been what kind of stool would go with the island. Counter stools generally come in two kinds: with back or backless.  If there is enough room, a stool with back is more comfortable.  When there is barely enough space to walk around the island or when the kneespace is too shallow, a backless stool is in order. Below are images of some of my favorite kitchen counter stools. I won’t have too much explanation for these stools as they would speak for themselves.

511dca1bd2fbe304a3661f34a4af73a02edbbeb4ab5dae65e90193a6fb5d9353Henson Wood Stools

0f5a3c5fff3d35f3214ab4e3eeebe93ede1b59efc2f8bbb5a9b7fe4e09218e0fSimple  iron zinc stool from India.

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aba5eb18f7ab952dd33e10e4ebd1dc49Rustic counter stool from West Elm

c9103cb2deb208330f8cd5c6fe65f3721f13bf01d93b0f62d28fd09f9c4a0aafChase stool from World Market

882d6058ff57fcbef00567355912ec0d

cd16ac4b57ae0664c7fa5c71aad5fd06

Backless counter stool from AG Modern

Calligaris_Online_Bar_Stool_CS1002e30ca7c6fe6e7208ca0521e89cccca6bCalligaris On Line Counter Stool

73d99a292be4d69d4b8ee70f9d415e69

fa6869b58ec248cb8a30f5ac1f444a0e

Marius counter stool

bdfc64a5aee7e3cfdee630bd8f0b83bdOviedo counter stool from Restoration Hardware.

b2ca694f41d195c5b8a793c334b896abYvonne Potter stool.

a6e1f2cf344bdac6c320992e7e621f3eeva_stool_1_bontempi_mediumBontempi Eva stool

9683bd9f006b9e62cd5ea2867450b8be

calligaris-even-leather-counter-stool-9Calligaris Even Leather stool

cb6fda779bed757b975fa9e989f84541Hay Hee stool

mood-stoolb5b28b5652e9ccadc28d981debc035dbCalligaris Mood Stool

picturecalligaris_air_counter_stool_cs57_01_1Calligaris Air Counter Stool.

c9b2202bd97c93699b1be1d14666f38c628d1f4a03c46e6622e3c13dfbfbcaefCherner Counter Stool.

trendy-series-stools-come-in-a-wide-range-of-colors

15df08c0bd7a52b6821f5870fcaeede8Series 7 Counter Stool.

a768d7d5ac71dd89afbb03a3f8971d2481856b020c1c1abb7cfe2afd0255f87bOnda Stool

c8f6ef17d52f50fed1ae113df4df05f7

lem-stool-wood-seat-2.jpgLem Piston Stool

dc65495fed48fcd028d91e36fad00384knoll-jamaica-barstool_im_366Jamaica Stool.

82b45b37c869f00b08c3b73a32db9415705859Radius Counter Stool.

And then, there is always those wood block stools. Quite heavy to maneuver but, hell, they look good!

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Click on photos for source.

Greys, greige and grays seem to be everywhere nowadays.  Grey kitchens seem to be the rage as well.  How to do a great grey kitchen that would look enticing and not dull?  Cool grey or warm grey? Would that work in any style of kitchen?  The answers to these questions are this post’s tackle.

Rustic Kitchens lend themselves so beautifully to grey tones. These can be achieved in the wood of the cabinet, the concrete of the countertops, or the plaster of the walls enhanced by all the nuances and shades of greys. The key is to provide some contrast or accent amongst the sea of grey cabinets. It’s a feat to pull it off with just greys.

5288c6332b534637e86d9e2b25c38091Warm greyed wood made even warmer by the use of stained wood.

english-thumbLight cool grey and white accented by a dark grey countertop.

b5920c636a4ade88b6747218feb4463bChalky grey all throughout.

ca670ff77055d26403c3901fc07c94c0Warm grey with a little blue accent at the range’s backsplash.

3448fec678d6ae6e36baa6b7862f41a0Dark grey wood cabinet accented with white marble countertops.

92a80ffd135f876c559e4a07ed091492Dark greyed wood with copper accents.

Modern Rustic Kitchens- This trend is responsible for the latest grey craze.  An entire post should be dedicated to modern rustic kitchens- so wabi sabi- the contrast between simple lines and roughened wood textured results in such an alluring play of materials for a kitchen. What I would do to get one of these projects. I am particularly drawn to the simplicity offered by flush cabinet doors with only textures for demarcation-  to design kitchens by just textures and moods.  What fun!

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36bc79dce6555476a3cd2b4d8f17b690

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Modern Kitchens- Flush cabinets, open shelves, slick appliances, cool light fixtures. What’s not to like?

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a269a89e460fb8bfc1b5e3796ae8b9d2

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Traditional  Kitchens- White kitchens are still the more popular choice but a touch of grey here and there has begun to infiltrate the all white cabinetry.

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Industrial Kitchens- Here is another trend where grey is right at home. Grey in the stainless steel finish, dark grey metal finish, weathered grey wood and grey floors.

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d1ecbe299bcf85fbfbbc400f50076995576558750f0020cd0e7c45d933c132e6

Material Use – Grey in  wood cabinets is the most obvious solution to achieve a grey kitchen. Some of these woods receive a lime wash. Some others get tannic acid and ferrous sulfate wash.  Some got a dose of bleach or lye water.

152b765257a21119555a4dbdad3dcc68

8d4856ffb955218f9a78578d0d438c6b

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Grey painted cabinet will do when showing wood grain is not important.

b5c49f3587cc97771dff6392bca0b207
e848714f24f97de71c21f55d2b7a78ca

Grey in concrete work and countertops.

a5fac5a3a7d8a03f7ca1ae354c7403c3

rough lux kitchen2

Grey in backsplash and or walls

6ab1c9d8d5f261bd210fa7193cb3505b

bc690e972e942189ae6af136965c8372

b09eaec07fec6d32528d9acdb8a2e1a7

25535124b2866fbba6368f88f13cc804

Grey in flooring.

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Kitchen designs that come together well don’t follow any specific set of rules. They dwell in the clever use of materials, colors and details. Spatial qualities also come into play.

821ce01921aa7d14a2191b2ac3a1d56b

bc37e7e0472c55d696fb1b77c32b92e1

700_kobenhavns-concealed-kitchen

b989a51f4e3bfcf26a719701fc318327An understated design eliciting more oohs and ahs than an elaborate kitchen.

And then there is the kitchen I designed for a very dear client.  Any takers for the next grey kitchen in the Bay Area?

Donato kitchen 183

Ever since I peeped at Philip Johnson’s glass house in New Canan, I have wondered how really comfortable it was to live there.  How would one do a glass house nowadays?  What kind of site is required to justify the expanse of glass?  How tall a glass wall would I have before thinking it’s too much?

The first thing to consider is where the glass wall should be gracing.  While it is obvious that most glass houses would save the expanse of glass for the living areas, one might think that circulation areas such as stairwells are as conducive to having a glass surrounding.  The view out from inside should dictate how much glass to dedicate to.  Where the view is 360 degrees is where we find our glass houses.

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The shape of the glass house. Is it always box?  Thinking back the original glass houses- the conservatories-  They took on the most elaborate shapes with curving roof lines, intricate roof shapes and patterns.  The Crystal Palace had a barrel vault central space.  How ingeniously done, Mr Paxton.

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762dee27e6fe54bde3eb55b8d03d326f0f2a3dd385655fc1d8be19a566e940a7

The modern glass houses however are mainly squarish and rectangular in shape.  There is something quite poetic in the simplicity of glass cubes or rectangular boxes.  The focus is then on the glass when the shape is “nothing to write home about”.

Before Philip Johnson’s Glass House, we also have the Barcelona Pavillion and the  Farnsworth house by Mies van der Rohe.  Both buildings explored the absence of walls – the first was about continuity of spaces while the second was more about non confinement of spirits.93b12f2349a7f93b6e21ed37286baf1b

Projekt: Farnsworth House Architekt: Mies van der Rohe

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5ba9cdee2c18a75b5f1c2c438be36ceb

Some glass houses add on roofs for practicality as well as for giving them a more homey image.

55ca2eee2efef713bc77eefc66804ac8ad538439b7c6aba958d652175efbf21321fb4bb6eaeef7cdc536a4d9bb1a5db1132a8d376d4f123403e213d32477af9fThe deconstructed house look.

Sometimes,  a large  flat roof overhang would do to keep the house looking throroughly modern while keeping mundane things like water out of the picture…9e507b0e8089d9364c7ca7022ed4f468b44023109cdbeb0f6fd888e27d4b66f5

A curved roof cures it all.  After all, curved roofs lend themselves to modern homes quite well especially when they are of one generous swoop.

4e785bf0d821c244dec9ad9363683f24254deec51066a40f5d75f1260be3b368c14116873b13481c59ec5af555e14cfa

The division of glass is where most efforts are concentrated as we can’t have too large a sheet of glass.  Working with the curtain wall pattern is never more crucial.

90fdd90aba2c98498fc4af66ef41b65fOne can go seamless.

417e93ee647b499ddac4a5418fdf3e52Banding can be so attractive.

4fdc410e696c4c90c89486c03a2d2a05A simple grid would do.

988011865b53bba4a6f60eb980d52992Horizontal slats in various spacing are quite effective.

The issue of privacy. One can compose the facade with a few solid blocked walls for private rooms such as bathrooms.

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c5dde5c8caa13f21512f4e580a5555d5Use horizontal slats where transparency is not relished.

6234ebd666d0f1d6b116a635a7c68840Privacies afforded on a lower floor.

7fface0e57e32310530da6e15a9bc77dTake it further- Privacies on the lower plinth.

5f236ce79f2a1729ad1e3a14136603e1Movable screens are another solution to the question of privacy.

294849cff4bccbd0872b4a0c26eb0ed1Philip Johnson had an inner circular core saved for the bathroom.

Any glass house worth its glass should have a view to kill for – otherwise having glass would have been a moot point.  The view from inside should explain it all.

b977d79003f9f85f8b5b09a7c9e52e16

22dc0715222f6026a818a56d5a73ec38

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If  only we could live in absolute transparency, forever forego subterfuge and embrace clarity…

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Why ever not?

I had an eye opening experience at the SOFA (Sculpture Objects Functional Arts & Design) exposition in Chicago the first weekend of November.  My first time at this world’s foremost fair for art objects was beyond any expectations I had.  My focus for this post is mainly on the somewhat functional objects such as vases, vessels, cubes and spheres  etc…

In my humble opinion, the most lyrical group of work  had to be works in ceramics while the most delicate intricacies were found in wood turning art and the most intriguing works lay in art glass objects.  I had a blast zigzagging through the exhibits and found myself tremendously energized as the first day at art school being surrounded by the wonders of  much gifted artists and their arts. There I was, a novice in this world of art objects, enthralled by their art forms, curious of their techniques and most of all at awe by the purity and singularity of thoughts that went through in their making.

Ceramic Works -

Ceramic and porcelain works excel in their inherent wabi sabi nature- the perfection is found in the elegance of the shapes and the beauteous imperfection graces in the lines, textures, and glazes.

Dutch Ceramicist Henk Wolvers produced paper thin porcelain bowls and cups. The fragility of the pieces was even more pronounced when they were perforated. I wondered if the pieces would dissolve if I touched them.

henk4Swiss artist Arnold Annen had his own touch of thin porcelain by giving it a translucency with moon like allure.

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I have always been a fan of Jun Kaneko and was thrilled to see more colors in his recent works.

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Carved clay vessels by Halima Cassell exuded an earthiness quality that’s unsettling at the same time.

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Elizabeth Fritsch’s vessels defining elegance in elongated necklines.
Elizabeth Fritschturquoise450Texture and luxury in one scoop. Takeshi Yasuda juxtaposed subtle celadon with vibrant gold.

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Patricia Shone gave us earthy textures with her raku fired pieces.

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Wood Turned Art-

Wood turned art has reached a zenith with artful combinations of techniques and visions – a long way from the Egyptian wood lathe.  In these art objects, I detected  more the level of control and precision when much of the art involved subtraction rather than building. The play is in understanding the wood species, the grains and textures and the wonder is in the geometric exercises conjured by the most creative minds.

J Paul Fennell managed to make organic shapes mysterious.

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Christian Burchard defined ethereal with his white baskets made of bleached madrone burl wood.

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Philip Moulthrop engaged us with mosaic turned wood bowls.

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Ron Layton created thin vessels of lace like repetitive motifs.

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The artist with the most appropriate last name – Neil Turner used carving and wood turning techniques to achieve an eerie skeletal mesh sculpture.

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Artist Binh Pho gave us the most intense intricacies with his turned and sculpted vessels. The forever consummate artist chronicled his life journeys,  mythical dream places and tales through precision in the cut work and transience in the fragilities of his art pieces.

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Glass Works -

In this field, one saw an explosion of colors and layering. The wonder never ceased with the creativity among the artists being so relentless in their pursuit of poetry in art forms.

Keith Clayton’s pate de verre pieces were a hit.

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Glass artist Wilfried Grootens amazed us with optical glass that were painted, laminated and out of this world.

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Niyoko Ikuta wowed us with spiraling sheets of glass of such ethereal beauty, the pieces seemed ready to take flight.

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Argentinian artist Edgardo De Bortoli’s cube were meshed like glass with a side “peeled” out.

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Masaaki Yonemoto’s architectural pieces were of cut and polished sheet glass that mirrored themselves.

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If laboratories have specimen jars like Steffen Dam’s work, the world would have more scientists than any other professions.

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Streetscape dioramas by Mikyoung Jung brought smiles to all audiences and voyeurism to a delight.

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The Italian maestro of glass Lino Tagliapietra hypnotized us with swirls of colors in the most sensual shapes.

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Midori Tsukada combined glass casting, blowing and cutting techniques and came up with grace in texture and layering.

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Kiln casted glass “blocks” by Hyewook Huh took advantage of the glass translucency to show off depths.

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Good old hand blown glass never looked better in the hands of Australian glass artist Noel Hart. I have lived too long in urban areas and couldn’t fathom that the inspiration of his works comes from birds’ plummage. Maybe a trip to the Marquesas Islands is on order.

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The Ensemble -

There were many other mediums such as metals, jewelry art, painting, sculptures that I didn’t cover in this post. It was one thing to gaze at an object of beauty. It was quite another experience when one got the thrill of being in a hall full of these objects or seeing the work of one artist en masse. The analogy of being a kid in a candy store didn’t even come close. It was like having all of our senses being confronted, challenged and questioned in a most wondrous way. I got lost in that hall of Wonderland and was pleasantly assaulted by a buzzing energy that could only have come from the all that’s good and beautiful in the human mind.

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I anxiously await to see how the artists’ work will evolve in a year’s time. See you next year!

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