My golden days for alley picking may be behind me. It’s sad to have to say that aloud (or write it, actually). Maybe Chicagoans hold onto the really good stuff more than other places, but it’s been a few years since I found a really great trash treasure. That said, I could still take you for a tour of the pieces still in my house that were dumpstered in each of the cities I lived in in my 20s– a slightly water-damaged Lane midcentury lowboy and amusing RISD-student painting castoffs from Providence, metal rolling cart from Indianapolis, etc.

People throw away some pretty amazing things, and few projects drive that home as well as #SetInTheStreet, a project from photographerJustin Bettman and set designer Gözde Eker that turned the streets of NYC into magical “rooms” throughout last summer.Just as interesting as the sets they actually create, the pair used a keen eye to use the setting outside the piece for maximum effect as well. Scouting locations that would contrast or building on the room the created, their work creates a totally surreal, interactive world within a world. Based on these incredible images, the moral of the story might be that a need to move to New York to find better alley furniture?

via Feature Shoot.

Plans and Schemes

The early part of the year is always the regeneration time for my biz. With the holiday rush over, January and February are traditionally when I make plans, think about new directions and designs, and try out projects I’ve been putting off for too long. I’ve spent the first few weeks of this year setting up goals in a way that I’ve never done before. There were so many things I wanted to tackle, it was clear that I needed to get organized if they were actually going to happen. I spent an evening the other day converting a small wall in the studio into a seasonal goals board, complete with about a hundred yellow Post-It notes and lots of big ideas. Not sure if it’ll actually work, but it sure does look impressive ; )First on the docket, I’ve decided that I want to try my hand at web design. I’ve dabbled here and there, customizing this blog and even starting an ill-fated website project in DreamWeaver a few years back. But this year I decided I would take a few coding classes, since there are so many available online these days. I completed an initial course through Codecademy and promptly got in over my head working on a personal website. After working for a few weeks, I’ve decided to rethink my approach to that one, and am planning to take up an official abbeychristine website in the new few weeks. Unfortunately abbeychristine.com, which I owned a few years ago, is now a bootleg Hollister site (I know, so weird, right?), so my first project is to decide on a url. If you have a brilliant suggestions, let me know!IMG_2062_2_smallerI’m also in the process on coming up with some new designs for 2015. It seems crazy that it’s been since 2013 that I debuted a new design– the last was Louis CK. Picking people to add to my collection is a complicated equation of whether the person can be translated in a recognizable way into a puppet, and of course whether they’re a popular figure that I think people would actually want to buy in 4″ of felt. I’ve only just started sketching for this year’s new class, but I’m super excited to show you new stuff soon.16356026891_d4950d0264_bHowever much I actually finish as planned this year, I’m excited for the new things 2015 has in store!

I Love Your Stupid Face

Usually when you buy a card for someone, you end up having to translate what you actually want to say into something flowery and/or saccharine sweet, just because the aisle at Walgreens only has so many options. And the person on the receiving end is only kind of skimming the contents of the card anyway, so it’s not a big deal. But wouldn’t it be nice if there was a card that actually said the thing it is you wanted to convey, except funnier and more concisely than you can actually write?

Enter Emily McDowell’s line of totally honest, totally hilarious greeting cards. Whether you’re sharing your love for your significant other, or just like for that person who might sort of like you, too, Walgreens has nothing on these greetings.

See more in Emily’s shop.


Deep Dark Fears

I’ll admit it: when I’m in the bathroom late at night, I always move the shower curtain to one side in case someone’s hiding behind it. Every single time. Before closing the door, before getting out my toothbrush, the shower curtain is opened immediately.

In my overactive imagination, there’s clearly a zombie hiding behind the shower curtain before I open it up. When I admitted this fear to Ben a while back, he asked the obvious question: Why would a zombie hide? They’re not exactly known for subtly sneaking up on people. Of course it’s a totally valid point, but these kind of deep dark fears aren’t governed by rationality. It’s exactly why for me, these shower zombies are totally real, but to you it sounds crazy– viewed from the outside, these kind of fears usually seem silly and ridiculous.

This point is driven home by illustrator Fran Krause’s series, “Deep Dark Fears,” which started as a collection of his own personal fears, and now includes stranger’s strange phobias as well.

via Bored Panda


At Home with Rockstars

One thing I truly appreciate about social media is that it can humanize people that we idolize. Before we got to see, for instance, what they’re having for breakfast, it was probably easier to get caught up in bigger than life personas, rock stars especially.

But of course just about everyone famous starts out as a regular person from a regular family. That’s why I love this Life Magazine photo series from 1971 of rockstars in their parents’ homes. Because nothing says “I’m just like you” than seeing a super famous person’s baby pictures framed on the mantle.

 I think Frank Zappa might be my favorite, not only because his outfit matches the walls, but seriously, look how square his parents are– it’s amazing. I love that Elton John’s mother and stepfather have his poster framed in their living room. Also, look at her matching boots/shirt combo! Richie Havens’ parents have the classic plastic-covered furniture, and notice the framed ttriptychof JFK, MLK and RFK on the buffet.  David Crosby looks like a little kid smiling next to his dad in this photo. I like the carefully laid out magazines in this shot, too.  This picture was a follow-up of one taken by the photographer while Grace Slick was pregnant.  This Donovon picture is funny to me because his outfit is totally something I could see a cool kid wearing today.

It’s much easier to think of rockstars as regular people after you’ve seen their parent’s terrible hair and ugly rugs, don’t you think?

via Pee Wee Herman.

Bowties are Cool

Now that the holidays are over, I can finally share the set of Dr. Who finger puppets I made for my nephew this year. He sat with me at my booth this summer at the Indieana Handicraft Exchange and was quite insistent that I should be making a Matt Smith puppet as part of my collection. I explained that if I make a puppet for a show I don’t watch, I’ll just end up in a bunch of awkward conversations (“Oh yeah, I totally remember that one time where that person did that, uh, funny thing.”), but did agree that a custom set just for him was probably do-able. So I finally relented and gave these for Christmas.

I did some reconisence with my sister-in-law and found out that his other two fave characters were Rory and Amy, so the complete set also included them, but the Tardis and Doctor were my favorite parts. It seems appropriate to be making Noah basically whatever puppets he wants, since he was the original inspiration for me making them to begin with– it was for his birthday in 2006 that I made my very first animal designs that led down this puppet-crazy road. Pretty amazing how things can come full circle, huh?