rad ladies : fuchsia lin

November 14, 2016

 

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When I first met Fuchsia Lin through a mutual friend, I was blown away by her personal style. Her mix of print, pattern, color and texture was so deft she appeared to me like a jewel, something so beautiful and special you just have to share it with the world. Of course, Fuchsia is much more than her unicorn style, she’s an amazingly sweet, talented and creative individual as well. With a resume that includes costume and fashion design, textile arts, production and direction, I had to know more and thankfully Fuchsia was willing to let me take a peek into her life and her closet …

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VGS: What was your path to becoming a textile artist? If you hadn’t found this path, what do you think you’d be doing now instead?

F: I was a first generation Taiwanese American wearing overalls as a kid growing up in a small Michigan town. I had no fashion sense at all, but I loved creating art. I was very serious about drawing, calligraphy, painting and Chinese paper cutting. At one point, it was my goal to become a professional calligrapher. It wasn’t until later on in high school and college that I developed an interest in fashion and textiles. When I studied art in college, I was drawn to textiles and surface design techniques because it integrated what I loved doing as a child with my current interests.

After I received my BFA in textiles design, I went onto study fashion at Parsons School of Design. After graduating, I worked a few years in the fashion industry. Eventually I transitioned into costumes because I wanted to create one-of-a-kind pieces for the performing and visual arts. Musicians, Bjork, Karen O and Rebecca Chamberlain wore some of my pieces, and that was super encouraging to continue the path which eventually led me to where I am now.
I can’t imagine myself doing anything other than what I’m doing now. Since I was four years old, I knew I was going to be an artist, and that’s always been the path that I’ve been driven to pursue.

VGS: Though your work primarily consists of costume design and working with textiles you also explore other media such as film, performance, and sculpture. How do these extra elements usually present themselves to you and how do you adapt them to make them flow into your work?

F: I think of myself as a conceptual artist/director/producer now more than a costume designer or textiles artist, although the main focus of my projects will always be the costume. I create a concept for an art project and I find the
collaborators I want to work with and what the most effective medium is to get the message across.

My work has evolved into film for my current project, Crystals of Transformation. I had been producing/directing live performance for many years; however, it seemed natural to evolve into film so that I could incorporate different locations into the performance.

Through this process, I also realized that film is a much more effective medium than live performance is in delivering the details and artistry of a costume. One of my steadfast goals is to bring recognition to the art of costuming and “slow fashion”. Through film, the costume can be seen up close and in detail, in slow motion, with controlled lighting that really shows it off. Film can also create abstraction from chosen compositions of the body in movement. These abstractions resemble forms in nature that are the inspiration for the water crystal costumes in Crystals of Transformation.

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VGS: What drew you to living in Portland?

F: I had always been an east coaster, big city person. I’ve lived in NYC, Paris, and Taipei but when I met my boyfriend in New York City, he just kept talking about the Pacific Northwest. Eventually I took a trip out here to visit Seattle, Portland and San Francisco nine years ago during the beautiful summertime. I chose Portland because I felt like I would be able to live a life of higher quality, as well as being in a unique city.

VGS: What, if anything, do you think is missing from or would improve Portland’s creative / art scene?

F: A costume institute just like the one at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York!

VGS: What has been your biggest challenge so far and how did you overcome it?

F: My biggest challenge that has already happened that I overcame was the 2013 fundraising campaign I did through USA Projects and raised over $6,000 to begin my project, Crystals of Transformation. This was the first fundraising effort I have ever made in my whole life. I had a lot of shyness about asking people to donate money and maintaining a strong social media presence to in order to promote my project.

I had a lot of wonderful support from my boyfriend, family, friends, collaborators and co-workers. I also had a great fundraising advisor at USA Projects who believed in me and gave me encouraging pep talks (that I still go back to read now and then). A friend of mine, Kim Dawson, a creative consultant, donated her expertise and coached me on PR tactics.

I don’t know if I would have reached my goal without the help of all these wonderful people, but ultimately, I had to really believe in myself and be courageous and passionate about sharing my mission and my art with the world.

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VGS: How do you stay motivated?

F: It’s many things; the Taiwanese culture I was raised in is all about working hard and striving to excel. Being the first generation of Taiwanese immigrants, I have a lot of pressure to succeed in this country. It’s in my genes – I come from a family of PhD’s.

I am usually working with a personal/professional coach or mentor to improve some aspect of my life. I am grateful to have found wonderful teachers and healers to share their gifts, expertise and skills with me.

I recently received a Regional Arts and Culture Council professional development grant to work with an art coach/film consultant this fall/winter. Also, acupuncture, yoga, swimming, cooking, bike riding, taking naps, and listening to Ted Talks.

VGS: What’s inspiring you most right now?

F: Water is always my inspiration! Dr. Masaru Emoto’s research on water. My Dad. The incredibly talented collaborators I am working with for my Crystals of Transformation film!


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VGS: What can we expect from you in the future?

F: Crystals of Transformation, an environmental film trilogy about water, featuring original water crystal costumes, dance and music composition. The first film has been completed and the second film, Inner Glacial Melt, is currently in production. The third film will begin production in 2018. (You can watch the trailer for the first film here.)

VGS: Lastly, what are you most looking forward to wearing this fall/winter?

F: I’ve always loved capes and ponchos. They are my favorite fall/winter wear! I also love wearing my favorite purple knit hat with huskies on them.

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For more on Fuchsia’s projects, including her Crystals of Transformation trilogy, check out her website www.fuchsialin.com and the Crystals of Transformation Facebook page.

indie designers : fieldwell home

October 2, 2016

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Portland-based Fieldwell Home is a burgeoning home goods atelier focusing on textiles, namely quilts and cushions. Aiming to bring heirloom quality into the modern age, Mary and Steven Wise, the husband and wife duo behind Fieldwell use high quality natural materials that will age over time as opposed to degrade while focusing on modern designs in neutral palettes to keep designs fresh throughout the seasons – and years.

Utilizing Mary’s background in textile design and appreciation for traditional practices, Fieldwell hopes to cut through the disposable clutter that bogs down many homes by inspiring thoughtful purchases that will last for generations. I have to say I’m on board with that line of thinking.

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Shop Fieldwell Home online and follow @fieldwellhome on Instagram to keep up on new items and events like their recent pop-up at Tea Bar Division and a natural dye workshop at Field Trip.

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indie designers : little arrow

August 30, 2016

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Eugene, Oregon based illustrator and designer Brianna Bulski’s brand, Little Arrow, has been producing super fun stationary and lapel pins for a while now but really started amping things up recently with the release of vintage-style rhinestone pins, cloisonné jewelry, and now, t-shirts. In fact, three spanking new t-shirt designs hit the Little Arrow shop earlier this week and just as expected their cutesy cool vibes make them must-haves –

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I love ’em all but that Always Hungry tee with it’s neon pink hot dog and mustard lettering especially hits home for this always hungry gal. Shop Little Arrow tees here, all other Little Arrow items here and follow @littlearrowshop on Instagram to keep up on Little Arrow’s frequent new item releases, cause it’s always something good!

sister style : katy

August 11, 2016

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Meet Katy Seibel; she’s a wardrobe stylist in Portland by way of Kansas, an avid thrifter who has used her skills to build an enviable wardrobe, a designer and artist who crafts accessories and cocktails, mom to a sweet pug named Igby, and a total cutie + total sweetheart.

After I met Katy to talk about her Tarot of Cocktails project last spring (more on that in a sec), I was totally smitten with her sweet and refined vintage style. In a city that at times seems ruled by black + white minimalist style it’s refreshing to see someone wearing color as boldly as Katy, who looks particularly stunning in yellow.

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That Samantha Pleet number? A thrifting find. Nearly everything Katy wore for our shoot was a thrift store find, including all of her perfect shoes. She favors Goodwill but frequents multiple shops regularly. Did I mention Katy’s apartment is super cute and that I fawned over her pug, Igby, a lot? After that and mimosas, we hit up some neighborhood spots the style blogger likes to frequent …

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VGS: What is your first fashion related memory?

K: As a little kid, I dressed up as Marilyn Monroe for Halloween. While I’m sure this was a source of incredible amusement for the adults in my life, I took my role as the legendary bombshell quite seriously. Sure, this was a costume and not an expression of my personal style per se, but I distinctly remember the transformative feeling that donning that outfit gave me. It was one of the first times I recognized the power of clothing to affect my confidence, mood, perception of myself, and others’ impression of me. This realization fostered an early interest in clothing and led to a love of fashion that endures to this day.

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VGS: As a wardrobe stylist, what is the number one lesson you’ve learned when it comes to dressing?

K: Don’t force it. Trust your instincts and allow your true taste to inform your decisions. In my early days of fashion blogging, I was concerned about following every trend and measuring up to my peers. I’d pile on jewelry when I actually prefer minimal accessories. I’d wear fussy dresses when I feel best in a pair of jeans. I’d mimic other people’s looks instead of coming up with my own. That said, there’s nothing wrong with deriving inspiration from others or going along with trends – just make sure you wear what you love and not what you think you’re supposed to wear. My style is still kind of all over the place, but it’s a harmonious hodgepodge. More than ever before, I know what I like, and I embrace it wholeheartedly. On the flip side, don’t be afraid to venture outside your comfort zone. One of the most common comments I get is, “Oh, I love your (fill in the blank), but I could never pull it off!” So not true. If you love something, wear it – even if it’s on the wild side.

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VGS: Which one item can you never have too many of?

K: Denim! I wear jeans nearly every day, so I’m not shy about stockpiling many a pair. Close runners up are vintage pieces from the ’60s (the decade to which my heart belongs), bee jewelry (I collect it), and anything yellow (my all-time favorite color).

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VGS: Which designers / brands / shops should readers be checking out?

K: I’m a thrift junkie. Here in Portland, I frequent several Goodwill locations, William Temple House Thrift Store, Artifact, and House of Vintage. I enjoy browsing at Backtalk and Frances May and checking out Bona Drag, Reformation, and the Man Repeller blog online. Admittedly, I’m a little out of the loop when it comes to the designer world, but I’m obsessed with what Gucci has been doing lately, particularly the embroidered appliques.

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Back to Katy’s Tarot of Cocktails project, she conceived and created a tarot style deck of drink recipe cards. As a fan of fancy cocktails myself, it’s evident that Katy pulled out all the stops with her recipes and corresponding illustrations rendered in traditional tarot style. Not only do I love Katy’s illustrations but her inventive recipes which have not done me wrong yet. Check out Tarot of Cocktails here and follow @tarotofcocktails on Instagram.

 

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You didn’t think I’d leave Igby out, did you?

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rad ladies : shelly sazdanoff

August 2, 2016

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It’s official: fiber arts are all the rage right now. I don’t know about you but I can’t get enough, especially when it comes to weaving. Having tried it myself I know just how hard it is to create anything tight and uniform which makes me respect (rad) ladies like Shelly Sazdanoff all the more.

There are lots of weavers out there right now but for my money Shelly’s work stands out in it’s perfection of technique and designs that meet at the intersection of minimal and maximal. While I’m often heard declaring ‘More, please!’ when it comes to color, print and pattern, what drew me to Shelly’s work more than anything is how she can make me love a simple square design made entirely of silver linen. It just speaks of time, knowledge, skill and an impeccable taste level. On the other end of the spectrum, Shelly also makes designs like this one which incorporates multiple colors (all perfect), geometric shapes and rakish side fringe – yes please to all of that.

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I recently visited Shelly at her sweet in-house studio where I was immediately charmed by her and her adorable family. I also noticed the locally made pottery from Mimi Ceramics lining her shelves as well as the locally designed and produced romper she was sporting from General Public; Shelly is all too happy to support other lady makers which is just one of the many reasons she’s a Rad Lady.

Read on for Shelly’s story …

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VGS: What was your path to becoming a fiber artist? If you hadn’t gone down that road, what do you think you’d be doing instead?

S: I’ve always had my hand in something creative since I can remember. I was a musician in a touring band for a few years, opened a boutique, helped run a magazine. I feel like I have tried a lot in my life and can see all of those pieces and experiences leading up to where I am now. My career path before this one was the magazine. I had my hand in almost every part of it. I was super committed but after two years straight pretty much working seven days a week I got burnt out and stepped down from that position. I took a sort of creative sabbatical and in that time we moved to Portland. After a few months of living here I felt that creative restlessness and knew I needed to do something. I had been following a few fiber artists on Instagram and thought I would give it a go. So I ordered a loom and read a few tutorials. With the first piece, everything clicked and I have been weaving almost everyday since. It’s hard to imagine doing anything else. Before finding fiber art, I toyed with the idea of becoming a florist. I love the thought of floral arranging being temporary art and bringing joy to someone whether the occasion was a sad or happy one.

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VGS: Tell me about your typical day …

S: I’m a mother of two young children so my day starts early around 6:00 – 6:30am. Breakfast for them first then coffee for my husband and I. My husband leaves for work at 7:30 and then it’s just the kids and I for the day. If we have nothing planned, I usually work for a few hours in the morning while the kids play and then a few hours during their nap time in the afternoon. My studio is in our home so I feel lucky to be able to both be a mother and also pursue my passion.

VGS: How has your art evolved since your beginnings? How did you come by your current style?

S: In the beginning it was all about the finished product and how quickly I could churn a piece out (which at the time was probably every two days and makes me laugh now because two days is probably 4-5 inches of work these days). I tried every style I could. As my skill slowly evolved, I started paying attention to the process. Learning what I liked and disliked about each piece as I finished and actually listening to that and using it to move forward. I eventually found the medium linen and fell in love with its stiff texture and how it looked woven. Due to its thin nature it caused my work to take longer with each piece. I really learned to love the process as much as the final product. I also learned things about myself as I listened to that process. Like my love for negative space, clean lines and use of texture and shape. Paying attention to these things has allowed me to hone in on my voice.

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VGS: What are your thoughts about collaboration? Any advice?

S: It’s kind of a joke in the fiber art community that it’s such an introvert art. We spend hours alone working to create something. So with that said, collaborations don’t come up often but when they do, and it feels right, I am all about it. I recently made two small woven pieces to be sewn onto garments as pockets by Canadian designer Tony Chestnut. It was great in the way that it stretched me and got me thinking about weaving in a new and different light than what I am used to. As far as advice goes, I’m probably not saying anything groundbreaking but keeping an open mind and try not being too attached to your own ideas. Allowing the other’s voice to be heard and finding that balance will only help the collaboration process.

VGS: What are your biggest inspirations currently?

S: In my latest works, I’ve scaled down my color palette and am trying not to be so distracted by choosing from a rainbow of hues which in turn will hopefully allow me to go deeper in my work. I have been really drawing inspiration from some of my favorite contemporary artists who use similar palettes and have such distinct voices: Anselm Kiefer, Cy Twombly, and Antoni Tapies.

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VGS: What is the biggest challenge you’ve faced so far and how did you overcome it?

S: I would say social media has been the biggest challenge for me. Tools like Instagram are so incredibly helpful and provide such amazing ways to find a community of artists and run a business. But there can always be a downside to those. For one they provide instant access to a viewers reception of your work and make way for petty comparison. Like, “This piece didn’t get as many ‘likes’ as my last one.” Or losing a handful of followers after posting new work. It can really mess with your head when you are vulnerable and still trying to find yourself as an artist. Also there is the copying or straight up photo theft that occurs. Both of which have happened to me and are super frustrating but wound up being the catalyst to push myself and say what only I can say with my art so I suppose there is always silver lining.

VGS:  How do you stay motivated?

S: I feel like I have been lucky where motivation hasn’t been an issue for me. Because my pieces take on average 1-2 weeks to finish, my hands can’t keep up with my sketchbook. I also have a lot of time to brainstorm new ideas while I’m weaving and sometimes whatever I am doing in a current piece can trigger a new one.

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VGS: Why Portland? What is the best part of living here in terms of your art? 

S: Oh Portland! I could give so many reasons – the city, the mountains, the rain, the food, the coast. Everything is at our fingertips. And as far as my art goes, I couldn’t ask for a better city. The creative community here is so supportive. From my experience, everyone encourages and looks out for each other which just fosters a healthy community and not a competitive one.

VGS: If you could go back and give younger you advice, what would it be?

S: Oh man, I would say to not look at doors closing or shifts in life as failures or time lost or energy wasted but to see that everything you do shapes you and builds character. Some things you will lose but most of the time, experiences, jobs, etc. – whether good or bad – will mold you and make you a more well-rounded person.

VGS: What’s your favorite patio in town?

S: Doug Fir Lounge.

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Many thanks to Shelly and her cute kiddos for letting me invade their darling house (during snack time, no less!) and for being an all-around sweetie!

Shop Shelly Sazdanoff here and follow @shellysazdanoff on Instagram to peep her latest works and her amazing sense of style.

around portland : sundaze collective

August 1, 2016

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Conceived and organized by impeccable curator and spot-on tastemaker Sarah Radcliffe of Yo! Vintage, the Sundaze Collective has been Portland’s premier fashion + lifestyle pop-up since it’s early spring debut. Hosted at the Cleaners at the Ace Hotel, the first Sunday of each month sees a rotating line-up of Portland’s best and most exciting designers, makers, and retailers gathered together to offer an indie one-stop shopping experience.

This month’s line-up includes apparel from designers Alexa Stark + Reif Haus + Lauren Winter, jewelry from Barrow + Polaris, ceramics from Mimi Ceramics + Little Garage Shop, goods from Yo! Vintage + Oko, apothecary from Topaz, plus many other rad vendors. Whether you’re looking to check out some amazing local talent, shop until you drop, or both, Sundaze is the place to be this Sunday.

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Join Sundaze this Sunday, 8/7 at the Cleaners at the Ace Hotel from 11AM to 6PM.

Follow @sundazecollective on Instagram for info, previews of goods and future pop-ups.

For more happenings around Portland, check out our handy events calendar.

indie designers : reif haus aw16

July 28, 2016

Friends and longtime readers may already know that my journey to discovering both locally and ethically made fashion all started with Portland-based apparel line Reif Haus. (In fact, Reif Haus designer Lindsey Reif was my very first Rad Lady as seen here (sorry, Lindsey!) and thankfully, as my photography skills improved, here too.)

With beginnings as a line of reworked garments sold in NE Alberta boutique Frock, Reif Haus has has stood the test of time, coming into it’s own as a bonafide apparel line that now includes lounge and swim wear. Once available only in Portland, Reif Haus can now be found in fashion capitals like LA, New York, Tokyo and online at uber indie boutique Garmentory. With that in mind, I’m delighted to share the latest from Reif Haus with you today —

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Lindsey cites the Japanese art of wabi-sabi as well as the imperfections and beauty of nature as her inspiration for this collection of versatile separates. Focused on layering, texture, and a neutral palette of navy, black, sienna and white, materials such as denim and waxed canvas have been used to impart both comfort and practicality which are both key as the mercury begins to dip. I love it all.

 

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Reif Haus AW16 is in select stores now and will be available via the Reif Haus web shop starting in mid August. Follow @reifhaus on Instagram to keep up on their latest news, sales, events, and more.

look book + giveaway! : lumafina jewelry

July 26, 2016

Getting her start in jewelry design + production in 2008, Lumfina designer Hilary Alexander lives what she calls a handmade life. Based in SE Portland, Hilary continues to create stunning jewelry made in her home studio using brass, sterling silver, linen cord, and semi-precious stones including herkimer diamonds, lapis lazuli, moonstone, and turquoise to name a few. Her designs suit a range of styles but all have an element of primitive design that makes for jewelry that is as timeless as it is edgy. I’m especially feeling her most recent line which has just been released for AW16 …

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To celebrate Lumafina’s newest collection, Hilary and I have teamed up to offer one lucky reader a pair of Linu Suma studs in their choice of size and stone! (Pictured above: large with labradorite)

To enter, simply visit the Lumafina web shop and leave a comment below letting us know which design is your favorite. For a bonus entry opportunity head to the VGS Instagram @votregrandesoeur and look for the giveaway post for details.

A winner will be randomly chosen and notified on Sunday, 7/31. Best of luck!!

sister style : caroline

July 23, 2016

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Do you know Caroline Lai? If not, you’re missing out. A mover and a shaker in Portland’s fashion scene, Caroline splits her time as a stylist, blogger (and sometimes model) for local fashion industry networking group P:Fine, fashion writer and photographer for Willamette Week, and as a coordinator in Nike’s photo studio. In person she’s bright, bubbly, and full of enthusiasm. Portland is lucky to have someone like her spreading the good word about independent fashion and design.

After meeting Caroline for tea last spring to discuss the current fashion and blogging scene, we became fast friends and I couldn’t wait to add her to the Sister Style annals. Her style is preppy with a side of edge and she mixes classic black with distressed denim with pops of color like a pro, never feeling cookie-cutter. After meeting up with her at her home in St. Johns, we decided to shoot in Cathedral Park which is literally right outside her front door. I loved contrasting her style with both the abundant flora and the more industrial spots in and around the park …

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Thank you for being such a lovely model, Caroline!

Follow Caroline on Instagram @carorinerai for fun behind the scenes glimpses of her fashion adventures.

indie designers : hello happy plants

July 9, 2016

Plants, am I right? I always knew I had a green thumb (I’m a taurus after all), it just took me years and years to find it. The secret to shedding my black thumb turned out to be – wait for it! – paying attention to them. Crazy! My issue, you see, was that after a while I just stopped seeing my plants. Even when they dried up to nothing, I let them sit there for months before they would suddenly come into focus one day. Ooops.

Well no more. The year before last I resolved to take good care of my plants babies and each one I keep alive and healthy for six months or more means I get to reward myself with some new babies. I had a little misstep with a tropical variety recently – I didn’t know it was tropical so I let it go two weeks without a drop of water and by the time I replanted and watered it, it was too late. I’m not really counting that one against myself because I was looking at it every day, and honestly, it looked fine. Lesson learned: look up your plant baby’s species and care tips right away!

Another trick I’ve utilized is fun planters, like this vintage dude here. Just try and ignore that awesomeness. Air plants though. Try as I might, they either shrivel up and die from too little water or else they rot and fall apart from too much water. I’ve gone through at least ten of them in the last year and it didn’t matter if I ignored them or soaked them, they all flew the coop to plant heaven. Since then I’ve gotten myself a mister and boy, did that thing make feel like I leveled up in my plant care abilities. (Million dollar idea: a game like Pokemon, but with plants. Right?? I’d be playing it day and night!) I’m getting ready to take another stab at tillandsias and am hoping that a little spritz every day or two might be the secret. But also, what about these amaze-balls planters?? No way I’m forgetting about my babies when they live in these awesome handmade concrete vessels from Hello Happy Plants

 

I keep my air plants in my kitchen so many of these designs would fit right in, though why not put them all over, everywhere? Made from gypsum concrete, Hello Happy Plants founder Kelsey creates each mold herself, hand pours the concrete and hand paints each. Personally, I love the pop-art-meets-outsider-art aesthetic and bright colors, plus each order includes an air plant (some even come with multiple plants).

Check out Hello Happy Plants here and follow @hellohappyplants on Instagram.

 

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Oh and btw, if you’re interested I’m posting some informal plant talks on the VGS Tumblr.

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