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Project Porcelain

I have me a fancy cup for my brushes! This was a completely impromptu idea, one evening after dinner, when my aunt (porcelain artist extraordinaire) asked me if I wanted to try this technique, and that one, and maybe that one? So we rummaged in her reserve of blank objects and decided this one was both pretty and useful. Half of the cup was for trying out a gold marbling technique, and the other half for something called “crystal magic”. The detail band was a last minute idea, and it simply features the most important elements of my work, the Arabic characters…

Skullcandy meets Minifu

Some time ago the representative of Skullcandy Levant asked me if I’d like to customize a docking station for a promotional contest. I was happy to, this was a fun new challenge and I immediately thought of MiniFu as fitting the Skullcandy style, in my mind.

The graphic at the top was the teaser, and below it is the real thing.

It took several attempts (good thing I had 4 defunct Pipes to experiment on) but eventually I hit upon a way to get these extremely minute figures onto the pipe. I used craft paint made for cold painting on ceramic, that also works well on metal. Only paint thinner takes it off!

Sneak peek

The long-promised kimono kids are penciled at last, waiting for inking. (A Japanese colleague kindly pointed out that the absence of feet was characteristic of ghosts, as only brides and actors wear floor-length kimono, so I’m adding feet in the final version!)

The ideal travel diary

Travel diaries are my very favorite type of book to make, so I think I’ll focus on those for a while to use up my various papers and bookmaking materials. I find beautiful books in the market but it’s quite impossible to find one to fit ALL my travel . This is my idea of an ideal travel diary, please share yours so I can try different things…

Size: Around A5 is perfect for me, not too small to sketch in, not too large to carry everywhere. Portrait, square, horizontal formats – I like to vary the format, the very experience of travel writing becomes as varied as my destinations.

Number of pages: Depends on the length of the trip. 50 pages is reasonable for 1 to 2 weeks if I can write on both sides of the page (and depending on the destination.) I avoid using big books for short trips, I can’t bear leaving too many blank pages. I end up writing a lot more than usual just to fill them!

Paper: Paper must be able to take watercolor and/or marker. This doesn’t necessarily mean very thick paper: Ingres paper for instance is quite thin but takes both beautifully, so I use it a lot. Sometimes I alternate two kinds of paper, one very thin for writing, one thicker for my sketches and painting. Sometimes I throw in patterned pages, not to write on but simply to inject a ot of color and inspiration – or random designs on some pages, like unusual page numbering.

Cover: Soft in front, which is more user-friendly, but hard in the back, so I can sketch without support. Definitely waterproof and able to take some beating, so leather and bookcloth are ideal I do like having a special design on the cover evoking that particular trip, if possible.

Binding: Any binding that allows the book to open flat. Codex is my favorite, simple and effective.

– An inside pocket is invaluable for ephemera I pick up on the way. Especially if I forget to take my mini glue-stick along, which happens a lot.
– Some way to tie the book shut is also a good feature to have, though I’m still exploring ways to do that satisfactorily (it tends to depend on the nature of the cover.)
– A bookmark. Not indispensable, but who doesn’t love those?
– A pencil holder, also not necessary, but can be useful.

That’s all I can think of at the moment, but I’m eager to hear others’ preferences 🙂

May Blooms

May is the month of gardenia in Lebanon. This fragrant, fleshy white blossom is our sweetest herald of the spring. The Lebanese don’t talk much about gardenia, not the way they may tell and re-tell other customs. One day, suddenly, the flowers are just there, and then you wonder just how many people around the city quietly grow beloved gardenia bushes, because the blossoms are in every living room (they stay fresh for several days if floated in a cup of water), in people’s cars, on their clothes. Women can wear them in their hair and men keep them in hand without looking odd. These bushes are generous, bursting with buds that tun into several flowers ready to be picked a day, and they are too lovely and ephemeral to be hoarded: I know of no other flower or thing that is given away so actively, for no ritual or social reason, but purely out of a desire to share this movingly delicate beauty. As children, we (and others) brought our daily pick to school to share them with students and teachers, who always tolerated the presence of the blossoms on the otherwise strictly-business school desks. As grown-ups, we take them to work, or elsewhere – I met up with a friend at a café and she had brought one for me. The day I walked around defaced Hamra, looking somber, a security guard pulled one out of thin air as I passed by and put it in my hand. The giving a gardenia is done without comment, without bringing attention to itself, just as if we had all agreed in advance that in May, gardenia blossoms would go out into the world with their scented magic, and we would all just be the messengers.