Sunday, March 27, 2016

perfect miracles


ONE OF MY FUNNIEST friends, Kathy Reed, loves her chickens. She loves them so much that she carts them around and says one rooster is famous. It's in his contract that I have to mention his name, although Jack Sparrow missed the photo session for no good reason. I for one, believe her when Kathy says Jack had a cut on his foot and had to send an understudy. Although Kathy and I have seen each other several times in the past few years, we first talked about photographing her chickens for my Easter blog 3 years ago. This year it finally happened.

READY ROOSTER  | Crusty was definitely ready for his closeup since Jack Sparrow didn't show. #shotoniphone6
IT'S AS IF the planets (and eggs) finally aligned. There is definitely a cosmic connection between Kathy and I. We were instant friends when we first met. And although we may not see each other as often as we would like, we have a rapport that's probably a lot like the communal nature of chickens. We exchange witty bon mots with each other in a pecky no-holds-barred staccato, as if we understand how chickens speak. And we have rituals, like eating fresh strawberries and whipped cream at The Original Pancake House along with our breakfast — something chickens would probably eat if they were human.

BEDAZZLED EGGS | Plain dyed and painted eggs take on a whole new look at Easter with spatters of gold paint and gold leaf.
COME TO THINK of it, none of this is so far-fetched. Chickens lay these "perfect miracles" as Kathy likes to call them. Kathy can talk for days about watching the miracle of life happen when she sees a chick peck through an egg, popping out and prancing around like it's the most natural thing in the world. Well, it is probably the most natural thing in the world, and is synonymous with spring's heady symbolism. That's why we see so many eggs in so many forms at Easter. It's a celebration of life.

SERAMA SISTERS | This breed of chicken is the smallest in the world. Short Stack and Jackalin are quite uninterested in the camera. #shotoniphone6
BIRTH, REBIRTH AND LIFE are what springtime is about. And it's amazing how mother nature teaches us the lessons of Easter (Oester) every Vernal Equinox. When you revel in nature as much as Kathy does, and I would like to, it's a constant reminder that the cycle of life in any scenario is transformatively poetic.

EGGSPERT | Peter Cottontail wrote the book on embellishing eggs.
PETER COTTONTAIL may not be the egg's maker, but he delivers them at Easter quite proudly (if not dapperly), after embellishing them with dye and paint and gold-leaf, transforming into bright pastel jewels, perfect for embellishing this magical tree, composed of nests and branches.

EGG ON TOP | The proverbial Golden Egg sits atop the tree.
WE ALL KNOW the reason we celebrate spring. It's a spiritual experience for some, a sexy and heady transformation of nature for others, or simply a reason to show off your Sunday best for anyone. Whatever it is to you, these perfect miracles called eggs make us smile like a good friend who helped you through a particularly harsh season that always comes around again, warmly smiling, when you get yourself back together in spring. If you had only listened the first time.


SERAMA SIBLING | Blackalin is Jackalin's sister, although they (obviously) came from different eggs. #shotoniphone6
GLAMOUR EGGS | Embellished eggs are sitting pretty in a brass container.
SERAMA SECRETS | Short Stack and Jackalin are always establishing a new pecking order.

©2016 DARRYL MOLAND | ALL RIGHTS RESERVED 
collecting, photography and styling by Darryl Moland
chicken talent and laughs courtesy of Kathy Reed 

Sunday, February 14, 2016

collective souls


OUR LIVES are touched most profoundly when we connect with other souls. Valentine's Day is a good day to remember that. It's not about couples, it's not about people who are alone. It's not about an ephemeral display of flowers and chocolate. It's about the collective of souls we connect with at the level of love.


FRAGILE HEART | This beautiful hand-blown glass ornament was a Christmas gift from my friends Eric and Tim, who now live in Germany. They bought it at one of the many Christmas markets 
there I've always wanted to visit. 
AS FRAGILE as life can be, we live most of our lives as if we are impervious to any harm or disease that might come our way. That's the only way to live life fully. When, in fact, the older we get, our physical selves decline, but our souls get stronger.

BLEEDING HEART | These shiny glittered glass heart ornaments were produced in antique molds in the Coburg area of Germany.
WITNESS the recent passing of my Bengal cat Abella. She lived a long and full life, but her body finally gave way. Up until that point, she commanded a matriarchal respect from both Frida, our Ragdoll cat and Tallulah Barkhead, our newest addition to the family.

A BEAUTY | Abella is Italian for "a beauty", and that she was. Rest in peace sweet Abella! This beautiful photo was taken by my great friend Claudia Lopez when Abella was probably 3 or 4 years old.
HER STRENGTH and presence was truly commanding. In dying, she left all of us an amazing gift. Because we were lucky enough not to have to make that terrible decision of an injected death, this family was brought closer together in her last moments. Juan and I laid on the bed with Abella on my chest and Juan with his hand on Abella's head. We knew the time was near. She passed so peacefully and beautifully with my hands cupped around her body. We both felt that magical last soul vibration just before her heart stopped. That locked us all together forever. No words can really describe this kind of peaceful beauty. It is an experience that, at once expands and calms at the same time. That was January 24th, just 3 weeks ago today.

TOOLS OF LOVE | These tools are made to be eaten because they are made of chocolate by Scholokomell in Germany. The heart-shaped chocolates are from Cacao in Atlanta. The flavors are sweet and spicy: gold is Aztec Aphrodisiac, white is Cayenne Passionfruit and pink is Antica Strawberry.
VALENTINE'S DAY isn't only for lovers, it's for friends also. Not only the glass ornament above was in a Christmas package from my friends Eric and Tim in Germany, they also included these wonderful chocolates in the shapes of a wrench, a bolt, a paintbrush and a tube of paint. Broad brushstrokes for collective souls indeed.

BUTCH ROMANCE | Chocolate tools by Scholokomell of Germany. The heart-shaped chocolates are from Cacao in Atlanta.
WE'RE ALL STRONGER for the collective souls that touch our lives. And as Juan always corrects me, when I tell him I am lucky to have him, saying "we are lucky", so I correct him now by saying I love "us". Together, all we have is us, and that is more than enough.

©2016 DARRYL MOLAND | ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

collecting, photography and styling by Darryl Moland

Thursday, December 24, 2015

twelve days of Christmas

This Twelve Days book is beautifully illustrated by Louise Brierly

I FIRST designed a tree several years back with a Twelve Days of Christmas theme around a set of beautiful figural ornaments I have cherished for many years. But I never photographed any of it properly for the blog. This year, as a special celebration, I'm posting an image every day, starting today and for all twelve days. 

IT'S A BAKER'S DOZEN of posts that illustrate how I form my thoughts in designing a tree, both thematically and conceptually, with each day's photo revealing some of the decorative elements involved in composing it.

THE TWELVE DAYS of Christmas is a time-honored carol. Although the specific provenance of the song is not known, the twelve days it touts, between the birth of Christ (Christmas, December 25th) and the coming of the Magi (Epiphany, January 6th), form its structure. With this in mind, I never remove any Christmas decorations until all twelve days are up!

THIS BEAUTIFULLY EVOCATIVE carol possibly began as a Twelfth Night "memory-and-forfeits" game in which the leader recited a verse, and each of the players repeated the verse. As each verse was added, the game continued until one of the players made a mistake. The player who erred had to pay a penalty, such as a offering up a kiss or a sweet. This is how the song was published in its earliest known printed version, in the 1780 children's book Mirth Without Mischief. The song is apparently much older, but it is not currently known how much older. It is generally thought to have been written in the Middle Ages. No matter, the song is beloved, even today.

THE BOOK in the photo above was published in the mid-eighties as a first American Edition. It is one of my all-time-favorites. Its illustrations are brilliantly rendered by Louise Brierley. Their subtle colors and stylized figures provide a rich visual reference that has always seemed as evocative to me as the song's much-interpreted lyrics. This book is the basis of my inspiration for the tree to come.


On the first day of Christmas, my true love gave to me . . .


A partridge in a pear tree. 
Ornament by Patience Brewster.
On the second day of Christmas, my true love gave to me . . .
Two turtle doves and a partridge in a pear tree. 
Ornament by Patience Brewster.
On the third day of Christmas, my true love gave to me . . .
Three French hens, two turtle doves and a partridge in a Pear tree. 
Ornament by Patience Brewster.

On the fourth day of Christmas my true love gave to me . . . 

Four calling birds, three French hens, two turtle doves and a partridge in a Pear tree. Ornament by Patience Brewster.

On the fifth day of Christmas my true love gave to me . . .

Five golden rings, four calling birds, three French hens, two turtle doves 
and a partridge in a Pear tree. Ornament by Patience Brewster.


On the sixth day of Christmas my true love gave to me . . .


Six geese a-laying, five golden rings, four calling birds, three French hens, 
two turtle doves and a partridge in a Pear tree. Ornament by Patience Brewster


On the seventh day of Christmas my true love gave to me . . .


Seven swans a-swimming, six geese a-laying, five golden rings, four calling birds, 
three French hens, two turtle doves and a partridge in a Pear tree. 
Ornament by Patience Brewster


On the seventh day of Christmas my true love gave to me . . .

Eight maids a-milking, seven swans a-swimming, six geese a-laying, five golden rings, 
four calling birds, three French hens, two turtle doves and a partridge in a Pear tree.
Ornament by Patience Brewster.

On the ninth day of Christmas my true love gave to me . . .

Nine drummers drumming, eight maids a-milking, 
seven swans a-swimming, six geese a-laying, five golden rings, 
four calling birds, three French hens,  two turtle doves 
and a partridge in a Pear tree.
Ornament by Patience Brewster.

On the tenth day of Christmas my true love gave to me . . .

Ten pipers piping, nine drummers drumming, eight maids a-milking, 
seven swans a-swimming, six geese a-laying, five golden rings,
four calling birds, three French hens,  two turtle doves 
and a partridge in a Pear tree.
Ornament by Patience Brewster.


On the eleventh day of Christmas my true love gave to me . . .


Eleven ladies dancing, ten pipers piping, nine drummers drumming, 
eight maids a-milking, seven swans a-swimming, six geese a-laying,
five golden rings, four calling birds, three French hens,
two turtle doves and a partridge in a Pear tree.
Ornament by Patience Brewster.


On the twelfth day of Christmas my true love gave to me . . .

Twelve lords a-leaping, eleven ladies dancing, ten pipers piping, 
nine drummers drumming, eight maids a-milking, seven swans a-swimming, 
six geese a-laying, five golden rings, four calling birds, three French hens, 
two turtle doves and a partridge in a Pear tree.
Ornament by Patience Brewster.


©2015-2016 DARRYL MOLAND | ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
collecting, photography and styling by Darryl Moland

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

family tree



A TREE HAS taken root. A family has formed. And this is already our second Christmas together. Life has been busy. And our view is constantly in motion. But, despite the turmoils of the world, we have the comfort of each other. A Christmas tree is a bright reminder of that.


MONOGRAMED CHIC | These gold-initialed ornaments form the script for a new family. J is for Juan; A is for Abella, the Bengal cat; D is for Darryl (me); T is for Tallulah (the newest addition, a rescue dog); and F is for Frida, the Ragdoll cat (who makes a blurred appearance in the top photo).
THIS TREE, in a small way, is symbolic of our new family, hung with initialed ornaments representing each of us. The wire and cardboard diamond-shaped ornaments represent a strong structure for a great future together. The tree is a Silver Tip tree, which is naturally sparse with ample space between the branches and a quirky natural shape reminiscent of the untrimmed trees you see in vintage photos. Many of the lights on the tree have crinkled metal light covers in gold and silver in various sizes to give the tree a magical glow.

ALL IN THE DETAILS | This unusual shooting star tree topper is actually a store fixture from Starbucks from last season that I convinced a manager to save for me. It worked perfectly atop this tree.
LOOKING CLOSER, this tree is topped with a multi-faceted and glittered shooting star. The tree employs a fairly neutral color scheme of glass ornaments in gold, silver, bronze, whites and greens with classic bright blue and red punctuating the mix as a nod to the traditional trees of my childhood.


FRAMEWORK GEMS | These interesting gem ornaments are made of wire and metallic cardboard. I added a tiny glass bauble to each wire-framed ornament to make them more elegant.
THE FRAMEWORK for a family starts with a bedrock of comfort, joy and love. When things are right, whatever life throws your way is tempered by knowing that you have someone there that has your back. When you feel that, you know it's the real thing.


DIAMOND IN THE ROUGH | These metallic cardboard ornaments are light enough not to weigh down the branches of the tree. Even though they are made from humble foil-covered cardboard, they are quite sophisticated in appearance due the diamond shape.
WARM HEARTS are warmed even further by a beautiful tree that is thoughtfully decorated. I chose to make this one thematic in color and form, but even if your tree is a hodgepodge of family heirloom ornaments of every style and stripe, what really matters is that it conveys that magical spirit of the holidays. The symbolic memories attached to decorations give them a heirloom resonance throughout the years that is unique and meaningful to your family.

Please check out the video of the tree below (hopefully, I'll figure out how to make the resolution better and replace this one):


video


©2015 DARRYL MOLAND | ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
collecting, photography and styling by Darryl Moland


Monday, November 23, 2015

peace and light


IT’S HARD to get into the holiday spirit in these uncertain times. Last night, Juan and I attended Atlanta’s lighting of Macy’s Great Tree to try to nudge ourselves into the season. I’m not sure it worked so well. Soon after we got there we saw a brutish police officer hold a guy by his coat in front of him and manhandle him through, and out of the crowd. Everyone looked stunned and I heard nothing said about it. So strange. I wonder what the guy did, who he was and whether he was a victim of racial profiling. 

THIS HAPPENED before the festivities started. And this was on a night when all the local news reports were highlighting the warning from the hacker group called Anonymous that there could be a terrorist attack at a big wrestling event downtown. There was also a football game downtown with tightened security. The Christmas tree lighting event we attended was on the other side of the city and also attracted a large crowd.

P is for P E A C E in this beaded letter.
ONE HAS TO wonder whether all this fear and hysteria (nothing happened at any of the events) is warranted. It is certainly no wonder that everyone is on edge worldwide after the worst terror attack in French history, the Russian airliner that was exploded with a terrorist’s bomb, a double-suicide bombing in Lebanon, and a series of other deadly strikes that are happening one after the other on a weekly basis.

An evergreen wreath has long been a symbol of renewal and everlasting life.
THIS PAST Thursday (November 19th), Pope Francis said “Christmas festivities will seem empty in a world which has chosen ‘war and hate.’” In his sermon, he said “Christmas is approaching: there will be lights, parties, Christmas trees and nativity scenes . . . it’s all a charade. The world continues to go to war. The world has not chosen a peaceful path.” This sermon signaled the start of the holiday season at the Vatican, where a giant Christmas tree was unveiled. 

I’VE ONLY BEEN to the City of Light (Paris) one time in my life. It was a much different world back in 1979, when I visited. I was much younger, more optimistic and full of excitement for the life ahead of me. Not that life has been bad at all—it hasn’t. It just that the human race hasn’t evolved as much as I would have hoped and our effect on our own environment has exponentially grown in such a way that our future is at peril, even without war and hate.

Shiny baubles always brighten the winter holidays.
THE TABLEAU I’ve set for this post is symbolic of the peace, hope and love that I’ve always thought the holiday season brings to all of us, no matter how we celebrate the season. The Eiffel Tower, the symbol of Paris (the City of Light) and a symbol for all the world, is laid with an evergreen wreath to mourn the innocent lives lost to terrorism. The lights at the base represent a gathering of lights from around the world. The banner with the letters forming the word PEACE is prominent in the background. And the presence of glittery baubles in the scene all point to a pause for HOPE that our country and humankind will do right by each other. But none of this will ever truly happen without the LOVE we share through something beyond any of our tiny marks on the world.

GOD is LOVE, no matter what religion is represented. Terrorism is not a religion—it is hate. This holiday season, more than ever, is a time for us to renew our spirits and to find our way forward. This holiday is celebrated worldwide, so now, maybe for once, we can find the grace and humility in understanding that we’re all in this together. Nothing can squander our better selves when we remind ourselves of that.


War of the Gods:
©2015 DARRYL MOLAND | ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
collecting, photography and styling by Darryl Moland

Friday, October 30, 2015

the all-seeing tree


THERE IS A HALLOW'S EVE tale I'm sure you've never heard before. It is the story of the All-Seeing Tree. You see, there was once a gardener named Mary Ann who lived not long ago. She was introduced to me by my photographer friend Harold. We used to go sit and be entertained by her for hours on end — always enthralled. She would tell us fascinating stories of her life, with her beloved railroad-hobo dog right beside her in her chair.


MARY ANN'S HANDS | My photographer friend Harold Daniels took this photo of Mary Ann's hands placed on a large worn book as a surface and gifted me a digital print of it on watercolor paper. In the years since she died, her hands have taken on a ghostly look, while the colors in the book cover have become more pronounced. I'm convinced her green thumb had something to do with this alchemy, blooming into an even more intriguing and beautiful photograph.
SHE WAS A KINDRED creative soul and wasn't afraid to speak her mind — both Harold and I loved her for her independent spirit. And boy did she have a finely-tuned eye for beautiful things. Our visits with her were mesmerizing and always fun. And there was the usual offering of simple, but sophisticated food, even though she was living on a fixed income. We both delighted in spending time with her. It was certainly not an obligation. And she learned as much from us as we did from her.

TO DESCRIBE HER, you only need look at her time-worn hands and they told most of the story. To describe the rest of her — she was a tall, big-boned woman, the stature of Julia Child — but she was the expert on gardening instead of cooking. Succulents were her favorite plants and she gave me one of her specimen frilly Echeveria plants one time. After that I was hooked on succulents, having had a green thumb myself all my life. She grew all sorts of plants in her greenhouse, but succulents were her thing. And she made her own hypertufa pots for them and sold beautifully-arranged containers to supplement her fixed income.


SPOOKY TREAT | A green thumb extends beyond the grave. Life is continually recycled and there is a definite collective consciousness at work even after someone is gone.
SPIDER INDUSTRY | This wire-webbed glass cloche filled with balls of moss is a perfect home for a very industrious army of spiders.
IN MAKING THIS All-Seeing Tree come to life, I invoke the memory of Mary Ann and create the following fictional tale that was surely inspired by the afterlife: You see, after Mary Ann died, her greenhouse was left shut tight with the plants remaining there to fend for themselves. The spiders played a big role in gathering water to nourish the plants by slipping to and fro through the cracks in the doors, bringing as many droplets of water as they could. As their army grew and the greenhouse soon became as self-sufficient and as lush as a terrarium.


CANDY STOP | This pedestal container of licorice in the shape of tiny skulls is a delectible treat for a Halloween that is spooky, yet fun.
ON ONE HALLOW'S EVE night, this tree miraculously sprung up in a beautiful gothic pot left in the greenhouse, It quickly produced "fruit" that looked back at you. Even though you weren't entirely convinced that the fruit could see, you knew it connected you with something. Even if it seemed a bit spooky, it left you with a certain knowing that our connection with the spirits beyond this realm is surely real, and gives you a real sense of satisfaction that our loved ones live on.

THE MORAL OF THE STORY is that what we see isn't always real, but what we don't see can be very real. Mary Ann would be sure to let it be known that life is what you make it. And there's nothing spooky about that at all. In fact, it's a real treat.


©2015 DARRYL MOLAND | ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
collecting, photography and styling by Darryl Moland