Wednesday, July 4, 2012

My Own Two Hands

On this rainy Tuesday, I trundled myself down to University Village for a little visit to Anthropologie. The official purpose of the trip was to purchase a couple of wedding gifts; I knew exactly what I wanted and found those items in record time.

Perfect. That left me with plenty of time to wander around this beautiful store and gaze to my own heart's content. Disclosure: what interests me at Anthropologie are the dishes. Don't care about the clothes, candles, jewelry, books, bath or bedroom products. But I am fascinated with the plates and bowls. Here are some of the things that caught my eye today:

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Lovely stuff. If they were giving it away, I would back up a big truck and just load it all on. However, after checking a few price stickers, I was firmly reminded that they are NOT giving any of it away, and I found myself feeling more and more satisfied with the collection of dishes that I already have at home. 

Still, I wouldn't be mad about having a few of those bunny or butterfly plates. I want to eat a spinach salad off them, and dig down to find those cute little animals covered in a light layer of raspberry vinaigrette when I am done. 

Alas, I was not ready to part with any more money today, so I averted my eyes by looking up. And there, I saw some sights that made me forget all about those overpriced dishes.

As usual, the store decor was phenomenal. Not only are their art installations big, bold and playful, but  also cleverly designed and built by the store staff. I love to study these amazing creations and try to figure out how I might reproduce them at home.

A. The colorful rectangles could be recreated by swirling acrylic paint on plastic panels. Home Depot sells plexiglass, and though I've never tried to cut it, I bet it could be done. Drill a hole at the top of each panel, drop in an S-hook, and suspend with bright cord in an undulating arrangement. 

B. Construction of the lacy spheres would start with round balloons. Dip long lengths of colored yarn or string into watered-down white glue or liquid starch, and wrap them randomly around the balloons. Once the outer layer dries, pop the balloons, pull out the remnants, and string up the spheres with more S-hooks and colored cord. The lighting elements are sold as kits from a Home Depot-esque store and are fairly easily rigged up.

C. These white interlocking panels look like they have been cut from plywood with a jigsaw. That material might be too expensive or too heavy for a home version of this project, but it might be possible to find a type of foam core or styrofoam that would allow you to make those nice smoothly rounded corners. Another option would be to use a thinner type of wood. Once you designed your pieces and cut them out, some sanding and spray-painting would finish the job.

D. Large-scale botanical-style flowers were hand-painted on these giant strips of canvas and hung from thick dowels. While it would be relatively easy to find extra-wide canvas, and use a wooden curtain rod for hanging, this project would also be easy to downsize to something more manageable. As you can see from my reflection in the glass, this one is at least five feet high and probably eight feet across.

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This mental exercise always cheers me up and gives me hope. Rather than feeling beaten down by all the beautiful things I can't afford to buy, a trip to Anthropologie leaves me feeling invigorated and excited. As I walked out the door today, I was reminded once again that the process of creating something beautiful with my own two hands will always be far more rewarding than just buying the latest beautiful thing.

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