When science meets sartorial: the skirt and shoe made from kombucha

TED Blog

What might our clothes look like in 50 years? When textile designer Suzanne Lee was researching her book, Fashioning the Future, she found the most interesting answers to that question when she looked beyond the traditional borders of fashion design. Beyond cut, color and cloth, our style in 50 years will be driven by new materials from the corners of science. With biologists, engineers and materials scientists, she realized, she could create an entirely new strain of fashion.

In 2003, Lee met materials scientist David Hepworth, founder of the Scotland-based firm Cellucomp, which develops materials made from non-hydrocarbon-based feedstock. His advice: “Instead of thinking about fiber production from a source like cotton in a field — an agricultural approach — we could look to living organisms like bacteria to produce fibers for us.”

So that’s what they have done. Hepworth and Lee started growing materials, at first in Hepworth’s…

View original post 987 more words


8 TED Talks about the wonders of patterns

TED Blog

Arthur Benjamin is perhaps the world’s leading mathemagician and, in today’s talk, he aims to show the creativity, beauty and wonder that is as much a part of math as logic. [ted_talkteaser id=1862]Stepping onto the TEDGlobal 2013 stage, Benjamin takes us on a spirited tour of the Fibonacci numbers, where the patterns to be found go far beyond simply adding two consecutive numbers to get the next. Math is the science of patterns, says Benjamin, and isn’t it incredible that as we note the arithmetical significance of this sequence, that we can also see it in action all around us?

“Fibonacci numbers appear in nature surprisingly often,” says Benjamin. “The number of petals on a flower is typically a Fibonacci number. Or the number of spirals on a sunflower or a pineapple.”

Benjamin’s talk reminds us of several other TED classics. Human beings have a proclivity for patterns, and…

View original post 535 more words


A dream shared at TEDMED: Diana Nyad swims from Cuba to Florida without a shark cage

Remember Diana Nyad the next time you want to give up on your dreams!

TED Blog

Extreme swimmer Diana Nyad has completed her longest swim yet … at the age of 64. Over the weekend, Nyad attempted the swim from Havana, Cuba, to the coast of Florida for the fifth time, and this time finished the ambitious 110-mile swim. The swim took Nyad a total of 53 hours — and made her the first person to complete this swim without the security of a shark cage.

[ted_talkteaser id=1336]In her talk from TEDMED 2011, Nyad explains why she decided to embark on this swim — which she first attempted in 1978, when she was in her 20s, and failed. Nyad admits that she hadn’t swum a single stroke for more than 31 years when she decided to get back in the pool and train for this swim.

“A couple of years ago, I was turning 60 … I started grappling with this existential angst of what…

View original post 287 more words

Life Lessons, Quotes, Uncategorized

How deep is your well of moments?

Paul Bowles Quote

“Because we don’t know when we will die, we get to think of life as an inexhaustible well. Yet everything happens only a certain number of times, and a very small number really. How many more times will you remember a certain afternoon of your childhood, an afternoon that is so deeply a part of your being that you can’t even conceive of your life without it? Perhaps four, five times more, perhaps not even that. How many more times will you watch the full moon rise? Perhaps 20. And yet it all seems limitless.”
― Paul Bowles

My heart is in the right place, but sometimes I should just keep my mouth shut. Over the past few years, I’ve offered to draw something for three different people who experienced tragedies. I’m not the best at articulating my love, but I know how to draw it—that is until my ego gets in the way. Within hours of offering the gifts, I began to panic, “What am I supposed to draw? It must be really memorable and fit the occasion. It should inspire them every time they look at it. I can’t just draw anything?!” This is when the chronic guilt begins. “Why did I offer? What’s wrong with me? I’m going to disappoint this person.” The guilt stalks me for days, which turn into weeks, then into months and sadly enough, the months turn into years.

"Homecoming" (Illustrated by Arlene Ellis, 2013)

“Homecoming” (Illustrated by Arlene Ellis, 2013). Inspired by the Wine-throated hummingbird.

I promised the above illustration to a bereaved friend two years ago. Actually, she requested that I draw something different , which was perfectly reasonable considering I asked her what she wanted illustrated. This friend had helped me cope through a tragedy and I wanted to repay her. The trouble was that what she wanted drawn didn’t resonate with me. Should that have mattered? I don’t think it should have and yet it did. Drawing to help someone cope with a tragedy can be emotionally tolling. It’s not a commission, since I’m usually offering, and it doesn’t feel like a physical offering; it’s me expressing  a love too deep to explain in words. It was’t her fault and I should have clarified things, but I didn’t. Instead I drew nothing and thought about her illustration almost every day throughout those two years.

"WIP 1 Homecoming" (Illustrated by Arlene Ellis, 2013).

“WIP 1 Homecoming” (Illustrated by Arlene Ellis, 2013). Inspired by the Wine-throated hummingbird.

If the offering stemmed from love, then why did my ego come into play? My ego was really my fear. I was afraid that she would underestimate the degree with which I cared. Of course this was irrational because the mere gesture indicated that I cared.  But unfortunately I’ve spent so many years building up walls that I have often misunderstood my own capacity for love. I’ve spent just as many years trying to deconstruct these walls using logical reasoning. This didn’t get me very far. Objectively, I understood why I had erected the walls, but this didn’t give me enough strength to remove them. Then I began drawing again and brick by brick the walls have begun to come down.  I haven’t given up on logical reasoning because it grounds me. I’ve just decided to complement it with my emotional intelligence.

"WIP 2 Homecoming" (Illustrated by Arlene Ellis, 2013).

“WIP2 Homecoming” (Illustrated by Arlene Ellis, 2013). Inspired by the Wine-throated hummingbird.

Why did I decide to finally draw this illustration for my bereaved friend? On Sunday night, I had a deep conversation with another friend about overcoming fears and the illusion of plentiful moments. He said that we behave as if we have an unlimited well of moments from which to drink, so we rarely take the time to savor each one. This made me think of my bereaved friend. What if I never have the moment to give her the illustration? I instantly knew that I needed to start drawing.

“Whatever you do, you need courage. Whatever course you decide upon, there is always someone to tell you that you are wrong. There are always difficulties arising that tempt you to believe your critics are right. To map out a course of action and follow it to an end requires some of the same courage that a soldier needs. Peace has its victories, but it takes brave men and women to win them.”
― Ralph Waldo Emerson

What moments are you waiting to happen to you?

"Homecoming" (Illustrated by Arlene Ellis, 2013)

“Homecoming” (Illustrated by Arlene Ellis, 2013). Inspired by the Wine-throated hummingbird. (Detailed features)

Textile Design, Uncategorized

Fashion Illustration Diary, “Waiting for the right occasion”

"Awaiting the right occasion" (Illustrated by Arlene Ellis, 2013)

I’m teaching myself fashion illustration. I still have a long way to go, but I love drawing the textiles!

Conceptual Coat Textile (Designed and Illustrated by Arlene Ellis, 2013)

The illustration superimposed on the coat is actually for a different project, but I decided to have some fun with it. Look at it as a coat textile!