Monday, September 29, 2008

"69 lunch songs"

If you've wandered into Flutter in the last two weeks, it's likely you heard either Nick Cave or the Magnetic Fields playing. Since the last two blog posts have praised the former, I'll dedicate this one largely to Stephin Merritt, the genius behind the Magnetic Fields, the Gothic Archies, the 6ths and dozens of other projects. Every time I put on his music it's guaranteed I'll be asked what's playing, and twice I've had people come in and pick up one of the gorgeous accordions and PLAY ALONG to a song! Seriously. The actual accordion player in Magnetic Fields is Lemony Snicket, the writer of the macabre "Series of Unfortunate Events" books. The music is so catchy and amazing, I mean really, really perfect: orchestral swells right where they should be, twangy guitar, soaring whistly synth; it's like he's trying to prove he can make a great pop song from the scraps of any musical genre. The music is what keeps it endlessly engaging, but the lyrics take it to another level of amazing. Some of the songs exactly capture romantic exultation ( "grand pianos crash together when my boy walks down the street"), or they toy with prose or cowboy storytelling. He's written whole songs dedicated to brilliant analogies ("love is like jazz", "love is like a bottle of gin", "a pretty girl is like..."). Most of the songs I referenced above are from the excellent "69 love songs", which is literally that, but the other albums are great, too. In fact, I used to like the other albums more, but the love songs grew on me. They did more than grow on me, they tattooed me. Below is the guitar tablature for "a pretty girl is like...", and you can find more chords and lyrics online. It's such a good feeling to bash out your favorite song, whether in a group or all by your lonesome, and most of them have the same five easy chords. I started printing a binder full of bowie and kinks songs that will keep me entertained for a long time. Another fun thing is to replace the word "love" with "lunch" in a song. You can sing hits like "tainted lunch", "the back of lunch", "all is full of lunch", "our lunch is alive", "i want your lunch"... endlessly amusing, yeah?

- sara kolp

A Pretty Girl is Like...

G Am

G:320033 Am:002210
A pretty girl is like a minstrel show
It makes you laugh
It makes you cry
You go
It just isn't the same on radio

C:032010 G C
It's all about the makeup and the dancing

and the Oh,
a pretty girl is like a violent crime
If you do it wrong you could do time
but if you do it right it is sublime

Am C
so in love with you, girl,
it's like I'm on the moon
I can't really breathe, but I feel lighter
A melody is like a pretty girl
Who cares if it's
the dumbest in the world
It's all about the way that it unfurls
Am G
A pretty girl is like a pretty girl

Friday, September 26, 2008

Inspiration from Time to Time

Ok...I said I would join in from time to time....
Yes, Nick was amazing on Monday night! It's obviously a show and performance that will stay with me (and Susan) for awhile. I was so pleased to see so many Flutter customers and friends at the show. It's been a steady stream of folks coming into the shop this week to say...hey I saw you at the show and it was so amazing and it took 2
days to get my hearing back!
Susan touched on the "old thing"....I think that was the beauty of the show for so many of us. It didn't feel felt soulful and fresh and quite inspiring to hear the new songs off his latest and to see the old songs that I've listened to for years come to life before me. It did take me back to years earlier when shows were the priority of my life, but I didn't feel 25 again. I felt 40 and inspired (which by the way is so much better!) was amazing!
Ok...enough about NICK!!!

Many know that the shop gets rearranged into the wee hours of the night to the tunes of Nick. I usually need a little something to keep me going like "Your Funeral My Trial" or "Let Love In". But no one can sing the sweetest of ballads like Nick Cave.
Here's one of my favorites...Far From Me

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Inspirational Insistance

Oh, inspiration! It's been a good week for it. Monday evening was spent with Cindy and other good friends at the Nick Cave show at the Crystal Ballroom. Doesn't it just sound romantic? A dance floor beautiful chandeliers, murals, a balcony. I have to say it was a fabulous place, and that it's still in it's full glory is really something to be said for the owners. So many times old things get tossed out for the new. The idea that when something gets old and chipped up that it's no longer attractive is just sad. I mean, look at Nick Cave. He said he was "disgracefully old" Monday night. It was his 51st birthday. I wouldn't throw him out, no, no, no! I was not disappointed, and I don't think many were. He rocked like he was 24. So see, when a thing seems old to one person, it can actually still hold a lot of joy and add fullness to another. So thank you Nick for reminding us that old stuff is way cool. Oh, and Flutter as always for helping old things get the respect and limelight they deserve!

How does this all tie in with my sewing and designing gig? Nick Cave You say? I thought you were supposed to write about interior stuff and what cool things your making, you say.
Well, how about next week. I just want to languish in the revelry that was Monday night. A night that made this old thing feel young again!

Monday, September 22, 2008

I resolve to watch more movies

I know it's not specifically appropriate but this song is so good that I have to pass it on. Maybe it's the chill in the air that calls for smoky jazz and tight wool coats. It could be that the combination of sultry and pensive reminded me of Flutter. It's a clip from a movie I really should find, I bet I'd like it. Lately the colder nights have me feeling like I'm allowed to watch more movies. I always want to recycle the same handful of favorites discovered in my teens, revisiting them because of their familiarity and their context in my own history; dorky movies like "what's new, pussycat?" or classics like "the third man". I have a lot of catching up to do when it comes to movies, which is exciting. For some reason I have this problem where I can never pick out a movie, and if I do I'll often rent it and turn it in late, unwatched. It's an expensive and very stupid habit, I know. I recently had Antonioni's "blow up" borrowed from the library for 4 months and I never watched it. It's not because I have a poor attention span, I think it's just bad time management. Back when I had a computer, I'd get a cheap and quick film fix by watching Svankmajer stop action movies on you tube, or by digging up old music videos like the one above. This awesome lady who comes into Flutter told me about a stop action movie she's working on, based on a Neil Gaiman comic. My daughter Lola read it, she told me it's great. The characters in the movie are all handmade, jointed puppets. Somebody even made teeny knit tights for one of the dolls! Can you imagine knitting doll's tights with pins and floss? I can hardly imagine knitting anything. Perhaps that is another cold weather activity for me to look forward to. P.S., for anyone learning french, the song's title means "requiem for a jerk".

-sara kolp

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Fall too!

I, like Sarah, adore the fall! The leaves changing color, the smell of the air, warm days and cool nights. Halloween is just around the corner. Days spent inside. What's not to like?
Oh yeah, the rain. Most folks don't care for the eight months of rain we get here in the great northwest. I truly happily anticipate the rain. I do. It means it's time for me to get going on projects without any regret for a lost sunny day! Summers great, but I don't get much work done. In the fall, I get out all my new old favorite music( I have a feeling it's Nick Cave!) and sit in my sewing room pouring over magazines and fabrics. FABRICS. MMMMmmm. Magazines. Mmmmm.

A collaborator and I recently met over a drink to talk about our newest project for Cindy's shop. Sari, my partner in fabric crimes who is not Sarah my partner in blogging, is a very talented silk screen artist.
Publish Post

We talked about teal and black silk with lanterns printed on them. We talked about chrysanthemums and peacock feathers on hot pink silk. We also talked about Gossip Girl, but that's a discussion for another day! We are getting this project off the ground very soon. Have to get her that pink silk so she can print it up for drapery panels!
I can't wait to share...

Monday, September 15, 2008

The Fall

I love the fall. The book, the band, the season: its all great, but i am referring especially to the season. Portland weather is sublime lately, with the golden late-summer heat of the sun tempering the slight chill in the air, and the sound of the wind rustling dying leaves.. not only is it romantic, but its positively mystical. According to wikipedia, the barrier separating our world from the world of the dead is getting thinner and thinner until October 31st, when it's completely gone, and we have to wear spooky masks and put candles in pumpkins to confuse the bad spirits so they don't destroy our crops. At least, that's what the ancient Gaels believed. The next day, All Saint's Day, is our chance to honor our beloved deceased when they are closest and most receptive to us. What wikipedia won't tell you is that it is also my birthday, so of course i have a huge love of all things halloween: dressing up, staying up past my bedtime, walking around late at night, black cats, eating tons of candy, costume parties, and all the witchy woo-woo stuff. The only thing i don't like about halloween is gross horror movies.
Flutter right now looks like it's dressed up to go to a spooky masquerade ball. There's a lot of velvet and silk, dyed ostrich feathers, and a wild satsuma-colored crystal chandelier. It also smells incredible, like jasmine cinnamon spicy tea. I think it's from all the scented candles. Cindy managed to find the beautiful little feather and wire birds that we had a couple years ago, as well as some awesome fake owls and crows. I'm looking at all of this finery with a calculating eye, trying to figure out which bits i can appropriate for my costume this year. Obviously not the chandelier, but perhaps the feathers.. i might go for a repeat of last year's fortune teller costume, which was fun because i gave everyone predictions and palm readings and stuff. It's also a very warm costume because you're shrouded in cloaks and scarves and heavy skirts, and mystical vibes. Last sunday, super sweetheart psychic Mindy Montague gave tarot readings in the store, which went really well. I think she'll be here every sunday, maybe through fall. I'm going to ask her for some divination pointers.

-sara kolp

Thursday, September 11, 2008


I have just finished up these beautiful pillows for Flutter. Cindy had given me some amazing old Suzanis that she picked up. The colors are amazing on these, as well as the embroidery. Reds, turquoise, green, magentas. Fantastic. A little fringe here, a tassel there. Not much I needed to do to these elaborate fabrics, they speak for themselves. My favorite is the green silk, which is about 50 years old.

"Suzani" means needlework. These embroideries are traditional handwork done by Uzbekistan women. A piece is generally started with the birth of a girl child, and then work continues until she is married and given as part of her dowry. It's cool to see how these pieces are put together of many strips of cloths and the crazy stitches. Can you imagine sitting and sewing thousands of perfect little rows? I can't! I'm glad women are still keeping this tradition alive for the rest of us to enjoy.

The pillows are going to be put out for todays grand fall re-opening of Flutter. I can't wait to see where Cindy has put them. I went to deliver them to her yesterday during her big change over, and she is the hardest working shop owner I have ever met, and one of the most creative. The store is going to be a sight today! The change from summer to fall, the light to dark is great. I was having a hard time looking at her while talking there were so many new things to look at. Last night I was even dreaming of that green velvet, tufted sofa with the green bullion fringe! Oh! And the orange chandelier! Ahh! Dangerous place for me!

Oh! Come if you can, but if you can't make it, we'll have pictures for you!

Monday, September 8, 2008

Couch Hunter

When Flutter first opened there was an amazing piece of furniture that really piqued my interest. It was a red velvet couch, from around 1880 New Orleans, stuffed with down and incredibly comfortable, with carved chestnut feet and baroque scrolling across the spine. All of the wood had this soft glow, I just wanted to touch it all over. I couldn't believe how old it was and how comfortable it was, and i wondered about their construction. I wonder how the making of velvet, or the dye process, has changed in the past hundred and thirty years. A little internet research revealed that in the 1800's plant dyes, such as madder, were used to achieve a deep red color. Chemists also discovered that napthalene, a byproduct of coal combustion, closely resembled the red of madder. The color prussian blue, incidentally, came from cyanide compounds of the same origin.
Wood was easier to come by back then, and people were less precious with natural resources. Beautiful woods like American Chestnut, Mahogany, Rosewood and Black Walnut show up often in victorian pieces but they're scarce and protected these days, arboreal leopards. Buying these things second-hand takes the naughtiness out, almost like buying a rabbit fur cape at a thrift store. It's how I explain odd things that show up in the store, like a zebra skin tripod chair, or a velvet riding helmet with a fur bunny face on it. Deconstruction and reappropriation.
There's an ancient couch at Flutter right now that's like a cutaway illustration of victorian upholstery anatomy. Julia removed a layer of fabric to reveal its underpinnings and mechanics, its limbs and lingerie. The soft shine of the carved wood is the only thing dressy about it, like a nude with a pedicure. The first layer is fine gauge cream linen, held firmly in place with brass tacks. Underneath that is a kind of jute burlap, two layers which surround the centrally mysterious stuffing of the piece. After poking around, I concluded that the stuffing is made out of tightly coiled mats of sphagnum moss over a layer of horsehair. It is dense but springy despite the century it's spent stuffed in there.

In the next few days, Cindy will be bringing in a lot of exciting new old things for fall. Here's a few highlights....A 1930's raspberry silk loveseat with sexy curves and fringe (totally hollywood glamour!), a 1930's velvety green down filled sofa and an Eastlake Victorian mohair chaise lounge in deep red. A few silk upholstered armchairs, a ton of stuffed birds, a 1920's illuminated light box eye exam chart and so much more! Cindy's garage is looking pretty crazy right now with all the stuff she's collected, it's like a silk and velvet game of tetris. Flutter will be closed Wednesday so she can pack it full of gorgeous new things for fall.

-sara kolp

Thursday, September 4, 2008

There's no place like home!

Hello, I am Susan Hashem, your host of the home and decorating department of Flutter! To start out I'll give you a little background on how I ended up working with Cindy the owner of this fabulous place called Flutter.

This is shall we say a sort of 6 degrees of separation story... After moving here (about 2 years ago), I was shopping on Mississippi with my family and good friend. Walking around the neighborhood we happened into this fantastic store, Flutter. The woman manning shop asks if she knows my friend, and then my husband says "hey I used to sell you stuff when you were at Dirty Jane's!". We had been living parallel lives of sorts in Seattle, moving out of there about the same time to pursue other avenues of existence and now again are living in Portland working on creative pursuits. I started bringing in pillows that I was making a few weeks later and the rest is history. It has been nothing but fun ever since. And I need fun.

After working in home design for 10 years, I mainly deal with beige. You know, stodgy home design projects. Most people are afraid of color, afraid of crazy patterns. I am not. I love nothing more than throwing together some wild combinations that in the end work out beautifully. Working with Cindy on projects really refreshes me and allows me to use my crazy talents. She throws some mishmash vintage fabrics she's collected and I put them together to make beautiful one off pillows and bedding. The past year and a half has been great, using old kimonos to make some amazing pillows, to the funky flower fabric that was used in Cindy's childhood bedroom made into a lovely coverlet.

We are starting to get fall together now with bright bold patterns and colors. Vintage embroidered pieces that are amazing, I am just trying to figure out what they will be when they grow up. I am also excited about a big project that we have brewing too. Custom iron drapery rods, custom drapery panels made of fabulous shantung silk with screened images on the edges, all of this work done locally. Also a line of silk pillows with fanciful images printed on them. These will be amazing when they are finished. I can't wait to see what stay tuned!