Inspiration

  • A Colorful Life: The Colors that Inspire My Life & Creativity

    A Colorful Life: The Colors that Inspire My Life & Creativity
    I found I could say things with colors and shapes I couldn't say any other way - Georgia O'Keeffe

    Early Beginnings

    Ever since I could dress myself, make a home for my family, design and create, colors have become a definitive part of my life and it continues to be so. In interior design school, the mediums of colors & space was one of my favorite subjects in how it can completely change one’s surroundings. I'm known to paint a room 5 different times until I get “right.”

    forest flowers

    Inspired by My Heritage

    As a little girl growing up in Scandinavia, my grandmothers taught me about colors from an early beginning. I remember my Norwegian grandmother, Vesla, with her Fair Isle sweaters, bold and bright, my Swedish grandmother, Ninna’s, bohus knit patterns subdued and awe-inspiring ombre designs. Two different Scandinavian styles that weathered the cold, wintery days. Warm colors are some of my favorites because the warmth my grandmothers made me feel with their knits.

    Houses in Bergen, Norway are painted in warm orange, reds, blues and greens while typical houses in Sweden are “Falu red” or mustard yellow with white trim. Color in Scandinavia Is a very important part of their design, the design can be simple but the color makes it come alive...just take Marimekko for example.

    table runner knit

    Some of My Favorites

    To name all of my favorite colors would be an impossible task, however, here are just a few that I use frequently: orange, mustard yellow, fuchsia, cranberry red, turquoise, indigo, lime green, emerald green, lavender and pink. 

    Colorful threads

    My mom used to say that red and pink don’t go together - color is subjective like art, red and pink are actually one of my favorite pairings. I find color so personal; it either uplifts my mood, makes me crazy, invigorates energy, or calms me… 

    Color is to the eye what music is to the ear - Louis Comfort Tiffany

    The environment offers a gracious plenty of color inspiration - just look to nature and you'll find the most exquisite colorscapes. Sometimes, the deeper you look, the greater appreciation you will have for colors, tones and nature’s textures. For example, when I explore Utah’s red rocks, the orange and red hues against the blue sky invigorate and inspire ways to contrast colors in a beautiful and natural way.

    mossy rock with ice

    The Changing Seasons

    I am very fortunate to live in Montana where we have four definitive seasons to delight in (you could even argue that there are six with the shoulder seasons between autumn and springtime). However, we Montanans also have our fair share of grey and dreary days...that's when I turn to Jaipur- known as the “pink city” in India. Jaipur’s vibrant, bustling city ignites in color that is so very unique which transports me... daring me to be “color brave” and bold. Maybe travel to Peru - their colorful dyed yarns and woven textiles give me that kick-in-the-pants, which suggests to me that I should try something unexpected. Or Japan, with their cherry blossoms, invisible esthetic gardens, and kimonos for a little mindful inspiration. The colors of the world are so joyful and boundless. I continually seek to explore new places around the world for color inspiration - it is endless and bountiful.

    glacial lake in montana

    Summer days - hiking in the mountains of Montana, blue sky, green mountains and meadows, fuchsia of fireweed, turquoise glacial lakes... bright and happy. 

    Fall days-  foraging with my grandfather in the deep green forest in Sweden, picking orange chanterelle - steering clear of the vibrant red and white toadstool mushrooms, while walking on soft emerald green moss. Picking, red Lingonberries, blueberries and occasionally yellow amber cloudberries - familiar and cozy.

    yellow moss on rock

    Today

    In my block printing I sometimes lay out a colorscape of warm and cold tones i.e blues and browns, but I also like the element of surprise and use whatever colors I feel that day and see what comes of that. Sometimes ugly….sometimes brilliant, yet it is the process of discovering and trying that I get enjoyment from. It is a continual process, and eventually, I discover the right recipe for that specific design.

    Colorful block prints

    During the holidays it's time to celebrate the richness of life, the traditions and memories that make it all so special. We are fond of red and green in Scandinavia gathered from our berries and bows- it's simple, but it speaks Christmas. My "juletid" prints reflect that season by emphasizing these colors in my work. The Valentines prints are mostly the traditional heart theme symbolizing love… and yes, pink and red hues- a nod to my mother and memory of her.

    fjord west fabrics

    Color makes life beautiful - Camilla, Fjord West Studio

    Fjord West Studio logo

     

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  • The Art of Block Print Design

    Fjord West Studio block prints

    Hello!

    Welcome to my first blog post for 2021! At Fjord West Studio, I strive to educate and share with all of my readers what inspires me to produce what I carefully handcraft and some of the tools of the trade that help me achieve my visions for design, color and style. For this first blog post I would really like to describe one of my favorite processes within designing my handcrafted project bags (both the Fjord bags & Blomma bags), which is called block printing. I will first begin by providing a brief historical overview of this traditional way of printing, how you can block print with your children, what types of inks and materials that I use for block printing, and finally, the colors that I block print with, which  inspire the different styles of bags that I produce.

    sketches for block print

     

    Historical Context

    Woodblock printing is considered one of the oldest methods of printing. This printing style, originally used with wooden blocks carved out into various shapes, designs, and letters was invented in China around 618-906 AD during the Tang Dynasty (according to silk-road.com). These hand-carved blocks of wood were then printed onto silks and a variety of other materials and cloths. 

    traditional Indian block print

    Although block printing’s early originations are found throughout China, this method of printing quickly rose to prominence throughout East Asia and India. As mentioned previously, the earliest material used for a block print was wood and, today, most block print designs are carved out of rubber or linoleum.  

     

    Printing with Potatoes!

    A great way to introduce block printing to children is to use potatoes instead of rubber or linoleum (which are more costly materials and requires sharper tools to carve with). It’s a great arts and craft opportunity for children to explore different designs, and color combinations. All you need to get started for this project includes: non toxic paints, like Crayola Washable Project Paint, some paint brushes, some cardboard or poster board to print on and a knife (butter knife, pumpkin carving tools, or children’s carving tools) to cut out the designs with (the sharp knife should only be handled by the adults). 

    block printing with potatoes

     (Image courtesy of Linocut Boy)

     

    Colors and Design

    I draw a lot of inspiration from Montana’s beautiful outdoors which helps me get in the creative mode when I am choosing what colors to use for my prints and how those prints reflect Montana and my Scandinavian heritage. Along with nature’s vibrant and beautiful array of colors, I also pay close attention to textures as well. You can often find me examining the leaves trees closely, or looking very deeply at the flowers around me to get a better sense of blends between texture and colors.  I am a huge advocate for bright colors that contrast against the textiles that I use to print with. 

    leaves and shells from nature

    Bright colors help uplift any mood and make you feel happy, so here at Fjord West Studio, I strive to braid colors and design to create one-of-a-kind products for my customers so that they can feel happy anywhere. Finally, I pride myself at Fjord West Studio by using only non-toxic inks to print onto my materials. This is important for me because non-toxic ink is friendly to the environment and is a friendly reminder to stay conscious of the materials I use to create. 

    non-toxic inks used for my block prints

     

    Conclusion

    There are endless designs and colors that you can apply to block printing and I encourage you all to try it yourself. Fortunately, for those starting out, most craft stores carry block print kits and you can also surf the web for some great deals on block print kits as well. For more information about block printing, please visit this link to read more! Thanks for reading my first post about block print - some history, how to introduce children to block printing, Camilla’s colors and design choices and how you too can enjoy this great form of art and self-expression right at home. Thanks again for Fjord West Studio’s first blog post. Stay tuned for more to come and happy crafting!

    block print designs printed on canvas

    Here are some great resources to get started with block printing:

    A guide to techniques & supplies for block printing

    Fjord West Studio logo
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