Thursday, December 1
My sister and her friend have often amused me by quoting a phrase from a sketch based television show called Portlandia. It's a phrase that seemed to pretty succinctly sum up an indefinitive trend whose origins are ambiguous, but which has become undeniably chic. That phrase is "put a bird on it". The catchy tag line is plucked from the mouths of two shop owners whose cure-all tactic for sprucing up previously unfabulous items is to simply... yup that's right, put a bird on it!
This relatively pain-free makover turns even the blandest of shop goods into covetable objects that score high in the hot-right-now department. And despite the actors' out-and-out camp delivery, its an eerie truth that in today's market the application of various winged specimens has become a kind of hipster shorthand for clever design.
And though mockery on national television certainly hails that this trend has arrived at Port Obnoxious, whenever I encounter products that do put a bird to good use I can't help but feeling a little warm and fuzzy inside. On a recent trip to the Baltimore Museum of Art I came across the work of Laura Zindel, an illustrator and ceramist who started out sketching straight onto clay with a pencil. After an afternoon of Matisse et al. it turned out to be these little pieces tucked away in the back of the gift shop which caught my attention. Perhaps it was the noir-ish blackbirds which drew me in, or the way in which the bulbous curves of each vase seemed to mimic the puffed and feathered forms of each of the various fowls. Either way I kept lurking around the display table, turning circles, willing myself not to like it as much as I did. "She only put a bird on it," I thought to myself. Ah well, in the words of R Kelly, "My minds telling me no. But my body... my body's telling me yessss!"
Bottom line is, best not to judge yourself too harshly. These handmade pieces are truly lovely. Have a look:
all images © Laura Zindel