Interview - Artist Walter Hamilton

Q:  I love your art work. Where do you get your inspiration from?
A:  Inspiration came from a leg injury.  This made it impossible for me to stand and dj. A lot of my investment was wasted and all the time and energy put into learning my craft at that moment was lost.  I became upset and began to break up records.  Came back down to the basement some time later and had the idea to start doing the art you now see.

Q:  Did you go to school to study art? Or are you a self taught artist?
A:  Other than the art classes that everyone takes in elementary, middle, and high school, no.  I did take a beginning painting class and beginning drawing class once at Herron Art School, but those courses were quite basic.  I have always been great at pencil and portraits; however the rate in which I finish a piece is quite slow and so I don't draw very often.

Q: How long have you been a creative person? At what point in your life did you consider yourself to be an artist?
A:  I’ve always been an artist.  From drawing afro black guys with shades to shoes onto cartoons and portraits.  Even style wise and other aspects of life and seeing things, to my cooking and food prep, to costume making, and on and on...  I have the "eye of the art".  

Q:  What part of your art career has been your proudest moment?
A:  When I sold a piece for my brother.  It was First Friday at 45 Degrees on Mass Ave, Indianapolis, last April.  I told my younger brother Gabriel, who is a great artist himself, to do a vinyl record piece of Bob Marley.  It sold that night and the feeling that I had I have never had before and haven't had since.  It was such a good feeling.

Q: What types of mediums and materials do you like to work with? Do you have goals of learning how to incorporate new material that you have not used before into your creative work?
A:  Vinyl Records is the medium of choice at the moment.  Vinyl seems to be the oldest musical listening medium that has stood the test of time.  Vinyl owners have this bond with vinyl, people will keep vinyl for years never play them, yet never throw them away.  From cleaning the vinyl to setting the needle properly in the groove, playing vinyl is a ritualistic act.  I am not quite certain what medium I will explore next, since I feel I have not fully exhausted this medium yet.  With that said I would like to explore stained glass and stand alone sculptures.  I would like something that will stay around and be a functional or at least stationary either indoors or out in the elements.  Art is problem solving and getting to how I will make it happen, I have not solved yet.

Q:  What advice would you give someone that wants to get into art? Or someone like me that loves to create art, but is feeling like they are is not progressing?
A:  Hard question...  Well I would say #1 everyone can do art.  It is important very early to understand your style and even more important not to compare what you do to others.  If you are not always looking for acceptance in your work and in this crazed journey to become better, you will enjoy all that you do.  Do whatever comes natural, and then try to build on it.  Learn from others, copy, reproduce, and don’t get too hung up on being revolutionary or original.  All these may come to you but with time, practice, with knowledge of self and style.  You can’t always draw and create the way you want to- that’s because your desire, dreams, and goals always surpass what you can actually produce.

Q: What are you futures goals as an artist?
A:  Be in the Smithsonian or another collection that will ensure that others see my work for generations.  Above all, reach as many eyes as possible!

Q:  How can people find you?
A:  Facebook: Walter Lobyn Hamilton 
Follow on twitter @Vinyartist

Inspirational Photo of the Day

From a natural hair album, shared on Facebook by fellow natural beauty.

Black & Spiro Today

I quickly snapped this photo as I was leaving the shop tonight of our front desk.  Today we replaced the black and white ikat desk skirt, which we've had on the desk since our re-opening last year, with a new gathered navy and white ticking skirt.  This photo gives a very small indication of our new look for the entire shop which will hopefully be in place within the next 3 weeks.  There is going to be lots of red {I am very into red}, navy, pale blue, green, yellow and a softer/warmer pink than the one I am normally known for. 

I wish that all of our lovely new things would arrive sooner as the shop is a little bit empty due to our recent annual sale.  However, as I keep telling myself - beautiful things take time to come to fruition and as my mother always says - good things come to those who wait!!

It's Fire Time...

I think we have lit our fire every night over the past few weeks.  We are actually a little bit obsessed with lighting the fireplaces at our house.  Even on nights when it hasn't been very cold, we have lit the fire.  Brad chops the wood and Harry collects the smaller bits and Max and I watch.  It is a big family event every single night!!

We just received some beautiful paper mache pots into the shop last week as pictured below and I think I might need to take one or two home as they would be perfect to hold the pine cones and sticks.  And then when Winter is over, I think they would look wonderful with our Christmas tree placed in one...I love things which have varied uses!!!

Fresh as a daisy

You might notice I have a new look.  I think it was well overdue.  This little vignette was one I put together at home last Summer.  I was inspired by it's fresh and happy vibe this morning and I thought what a perfect picture to post for the start of a new era here at ABT....

image - elouise van riet-gray

Stylish Option's For Your Loc Hawk!


Loctician Thierry Baptiste is a talented hair stylist that can do amazing things with loc's, natural hair and other hair textures. In the photos above, Thierry shows how you can rock a loc Mohawk, without getting stuck with one look. To see more stories about Thierry and his work, check him out on Facebook  &  Twitter.

"Another wonderful day in ThierryVille" - Thierry
Hair/Photography/Styling: Thierry Baptiste
Assistant Syylist: Jenni Love
MUA: Lequetta Fletcher
Barber Grooming: Parris Wagner
Crochet Earrings courtesy of Deana's Jewelry & Things
Feather Earrings courtesy of Luxor Couture 

Second Choice

The floral patterned fabric above wasn't my first choice colourway for the curtains in our bedroom at home.  My first choice was the lavender colourway.  However, like so many fabrics we have ordered over the past 12-18 months it was out of stock and not available.  Has this been a problem for other decorators out there too?  With only a few weeks to go before Christmas last year I made a very rushed decision and went for the green colourway instead.  I must admit when they first went in I had regrets because I am not usually a huge green lover.  However, they have grown on me and now I absolutely love them.  Has anything like this ever happened to you?  I'd love to hear your stories!!!


image 1 - anna spiro bedroom photographed by elouise van riet-gray


Our first born child knew the definition of No well before he ever got himself into too much trouble.  A simple No would always result in him moving away from something I didn't want him to touch. 

Over the years I've had many clients ask me how I am able to keep all my books and bits and pieces in place on our coffee table with a little one in the house.  I have always been a firm believer in leaving all my precious objects around the house and teaching  my children to respect my things which will eventually become theirs {whether they like it or not}.  

HOWEVER, I have to say that I have entered into a completely new way of life with our Max.  Ever since Christmas I have had one very tall pile of books perched right in the middle of our coffee table.  Not because this is a new way I am experimenting with arranging my things.  It is the result of a child who seems to have determination which rivals my own.

Late this afternoon I had an appointment at Betty's lovely home and as I was leaving I spotted her big old amazing tree bearing lots of fruit.  She very generously offered me a few which I brought home and placed into one of my vintage blue and white plates.  I bravely placed it on our coffee table amongst my other things.  It took Max about 5 seconds to arrive at the coffee table.  He snatched his very own lemon out of my lemon bowl and then proceeded to put it into his mouth.  I said no and then I said no again and then again...I think I am starting to sound like a broken record!

I caught the moment with my camera and then I moved the lemons to higher ground.  It seems I need to work out a plan of attack as I can't keep this Leaning Tower of Pisa book arrangement thing happening... 

Any tips?xx

I AM....

~ Contribution from a handsome loc'd king from our natural hair community.

Great Cake

Today we celebrated Max's Christening and first Birthday at our home with our family.  My mum did her usual amazing cooking thing and my Aunty Jane cooked lots of wonderful sweets.  My job was the Christening/Birthday cake.  One of my client's told me about this rainbow cake and how easy it was to make.  I was very doubtful!  However, it turns out that it was a very easy cake to make and it is an absolute show stopper!  Thanks Charmaine for sending me the link to this fabulous cake which Meredith over at Count it all Joy featured on her blog.  If I can make it, anyone can make it.  And now Harry wants me to make it for his Birthday later on in the year.  I think it's going to become a family favourite!!

Thank Goodness it's Friday!!!

I've seen a few TGIF posts around Blogland this afternoon and I have to agree....THANK GOODNESS IT'S FRIDAY!!!!!!!!!!  But, I have Max's First Birthday Party and Christening this Sunday so I'll be at it again running around like crazy.  Thank goodness it's just the family coming.  I am attempting to cook a cake one of my client's recommended to me tomorrow for Sunday so if it works out I'll be sure to post it.  I also think I need to do something with these lemons I've had sitting in this basket on our dining table for a couple of weeks... 

Have a great weekend! 

Max Turns 1

Max woke up this morning to red, blue, yellow and green balloons tied all around his cot.  This is sort of a little tradition in our household.  Lots of balloons on Birthdays that is.  He absolutely loved them.  However, I think he loved his new car even more.  And I think Harry loved it even more than Max!  It's been a perfect First Birthday. 

Making That Natural Step

Making that natural step – Loc's
Advice and Inspirational written piece by Naturaleza

What if…

no-one likes it?
everyone says it is not me?
people look at me strangely?

Do these sound like questions you ask yourself? 

Try these on instead - What if...?
I like it alot?
it makes me happy?
doing this allows me to be creative in other ways?
people say crap about it? I'm doing it for ME!

Don't let the views people have of you hold you back from doing it.
You know what I mean!   Having natural hair!

I won't pretend to be the guru on the topic. I can only share my experience. This is the second time that I've begun the journey. I don't know exactly what it is, but this time I feel more relaxed, feeling fit in my skin and loving who I am. 

Maybe it comes with maturity...not with chronological age per se. But maturity that allows us to block out the detractors. When we get to that phase that as people we are comfortable with who we are, who we see and quite frankly, we are not put off by what people say.

We just smile and nod!

Trust me...I smile and nod!

-Ask questions:        Educate yourself by asking other people around you who have natural hair how they maintain it. In my case, I preferred to ask questions about sizing and method to start my locs because I did
not want small locs. Find out about products and of course, the cost to maintain your hair looking its best.

-Use your tech resources:      The Internet is there to help. There are many sites, Blogs, Vlogs like Youtube to educate you.  We all have different reasons for wanting to have natural hair. But, don't get bogged down by what people want. Get excited about what you want! Use what you see and read to make informed decisions.

-Choose a responsible someone:   That someone does not have to be a Broad Street cosmetologist.  But, in the case of locs, I would rather have someone who knows what they are doing start them as they can show me what to do when making it to the salon might be difficult. Hey, that someone might even be your sister, your barber, your best-friend!

-Transitioning:    Not every day will be the same. Some days you may not want to do a twist out or do your full hair regimen. So what? Why can't you rock your headband? Or, do a scarf to complement your outfit? You are not your hair! Be creative with what God gave you! Dealing with locs has meant for me dealing with frizz and people who know me when I had relaxed hair, know how every strand of hair was in place. They knew I had every possible curling iron size under the sun.  The frizz is like a lesson in PATIENCE AND FORBEARANCE!  When transitioning, do you want to wear braids? What about doing the Big Chop (BC)?  Or, even microbraids? These are things to consider.

-No more burns:            Need I say more?

-Product junkie:        Then, of course we think about products.  Hmmm, another yummy part of having natural hair!  But, hey! Take it easy! You still want your crown to look lovely. There is a whole world of natural hair care products locally and overseas. Some say "natural" on the bottle. Others, are 'natural' with the ingredients they put IN the bottle, too! So, do your leg-work.

And, don't let people put limitations on how long they think you will keep your hair in its natural state either. That decision is up to you.  Nor, should you set up yourself for  the - kinky hair vs. loc'd hair debate.  In my humble layman's opinion, "Natural "means no element of chemical processing. So don't put yourself on a guilt trip either.  

Life is dynamic...don't be afraid! And as you may (or may not realize), a woman's sense of style and dare I say, how she wears her hair changes throughout her life; from phase to phase.

Remember: Love you! Embrace your beauty - inside and out!

Happy Birthday Max

It's hard to believe that our little Max turns 1 tomorrow.  To celebrate his first year, Harry and I recently created this little chair for him for his bedroom.  Being quite small, it is actually the perfect size for him to climb up onto. I bought the vintage chair for a very small sum and then had it recovered in a plain white canvas.  Harry then drew all over it with fabric felt pens.  On the back I have written a special little note to him.  We also wrote his date of birth and a few of his favourite sounds on the chair too.  I hope it is something he cherishes and keeps forever.

PS.  If anyone is going to try this I would advise ironing the chair after you have drawn on it so as to seal the ink onto the fabric.

Link of the Day! Khamit Kinks client.

 "Interim hairstyle created by the wearer." - A Khamit Kinks client.

I Love Kate Lewis

I am totally smitten with the artwork of Kate Lewis.  I love everything she does.  Her paintings have a soft, smudgy look which I think is very beautiful.

Giveaway!! Hair Time Art work

I would like to thank Katie from Mossy Rock Designs, for offering to host a giveaway on the NBH Blog today. For this contest, Katie is giving away the artwork above, entitled Hair Time. This artwork is on 5x7 linen textured paper. Katie is in the process of trying to adopt a young girl from Ethiopia, and profits from the sell of her art will go towards her families adoption fund!

To enter the contest, please write in and talk about why you think it is important to reach out to children in need. The winner will be chosen by Katie.  The contest ends in two weeks on Saturday, May 28th at 10 pm. Good luck!  To see more art work by Katie, visit her Etsy shop at Mossy Rock Designs.

What's Next

For me, creating a home with soul is the most important thing I hope to achieve for my clients and myself. 

No matter what colour or style preference you have, it's about selecting furniture, fabrics and pieces which strike a chord with you.  It's also about having your children's artwork on your walls and your grandmother's vase on your fireplace mantel.  It's about personal preference and the use of items which have personal meaning.

I have found that it's the most unusual pieces which stay within the walls of our family home.  For example the Antique Dining table we purchased just before we got married will never be replaced or sent to the shop to be sold.  Collecting Antique furniture does take time and money but I think it's worth waiting for the perfect piece and collecting pieces over time certainly helps when it comes to funding such items. 

Over the coming weeks we will be taking delivery of lots of wonderful new things at Black & Spiro including numerous Antique pieces which I have been collecting over the last few months from far afield.  There will be new fabrics and a wonderful new colour palette which I think will be fresh and exciting. 

I continue to put all my effort into sourcing and creating inimitable things for Black & Spiro and I am sure you will all be very inspired and excited by our new offerings...

I look forward to sharing photos in the coming weeks.

Black & Spiro Sale 2011

Mum snapped this photo as the beautiful pair of Antique chairs were loaded into the back of this truck.  They were headed to their new home in Byron Bay.  I was sad to see these chairs go as they were my favourite things in the entire shop.  These ladies drove all the way up this morning from Byron Bay...unbelievable!!

What a beautiful, sunny day it was today.  Perfect weather for a sale.  I arrived at the store at 7.15am to find the first two ladies lined up at our front door.  They had apparently been there since 6.45am.  To say I was surprised is an understatement.  By 7.30am my friend Faux Fuchsia had arrived and by 8am there was an army of happy, excited women at our front door lined up in an orderly queue around the corner into Browne Street ready and prepared for our 9am open. 

I have to say that every year I become more and more anxious about our one day only sale.  My thoughts drift from what if nobody comes to what if more people come than last year.

However, it seems that the latter is true - to my complete astonishment more and more people come every year.  Last year I don't think I was really prepared for the numbers we had on the day but this year we set in place some new procedures for our sale which I think made it so much better.  

I would like to thank everyone who supported us today.  I was absolutely delighted by the kindness, politeness and civility of everyone and it seems that everyone left the store not only with something they love but also with a smiling, happy face which makes me very happy and relieved!!

PS.  A huge thank you to my oldest and dearest friend in the entire world Sophie and also to Diana and Mum for stepping in and helping us.  I don't know how we would have done it without you!!!!  Oh and also the biggest thanks to my beautiful Black & Spiro girls - Kel, Liv & Eve.  You girls all worked tirelessly over the last week getting us ready for today.  You are THE BEST!!!

Mid-Week Tulips

These fresh tulips arrived at Black & Spiro today.  They were such a surprise.  I took them home and arranged them in the vintage bird vase I picked up a few weeks ago.  They have brightened my week. Thank you Janet!!

The Preparations Have Begun...

Yesterday we started preparing for our annual sale at Black & Spiro which starts at 9am this Saturday.  This is what our fabric remnant room looked like after I had stripped it of piles and piles of fabric which we are putting into our sale on Saturday. It's so nice to have some order in our remnant room as it usually looks like a cyclone has swept through it!!

Patchwork Tiles & Mothers Day

Whilst having a flick through one of my old decorating books today I stumbled across this image which reminded me how much I really like the idea of these blue and white patchwork tiles for our new kitchen.  Oh and look at those big fabulous blue and white bowls...definitely something else to covet!!

Hope everyone had a wonderful Mother's Day.  Mine was lovely.  The boys cooked me lunch.  I set the table with succulents and our mismatched old blue and white plates.  It was relaxing and happy and I loved every minute of it....xx

Interview with Yarminiah

Q:  It is wonderful to see young successful business woman. How did you get your start in creating your jewelry line?
A: Thank you. I have dedicated seven years of my life to the fine arts. In that time I have studied/collaborated with artists of all mediums, but did not delve into jewelry making until a year and a half ago. P U R P O S E began at the end of last summer, a time in my life when I was eager to keep my work moving in new directions.  It all began one morning when I felt particularly unmotivated, staring at a gigantic pack of matchsticks sitting in my room. I don't recall how the vision came to me but I found myself some glue and began creating earrings out of matchsticks. After a week I'd perfected the design and couldn't stop making them. I showed my sister, Yaminah, and she was incredibly inspired. The concept of making jewelry out of ordinary materials was born and we couldn't be more excited. We had begun a new chapter of creativity. Yaminah and I spent weeks hunting for new materials and began creating different unique designs. Then we began a blog. Deciding a name for our jewelry line was a no brainer- we had found a sense of purpose and hoped to share it. We sold our pieces at a local festivals and area selling in Spain and soon the Canary Islands! We are deeply invested in keeping P U R P O S E growing as a company and as a source of artistic inspiration. It has taken on a life of its own and created a new space for enriching collaborations! 

Q: You are currently studying in Barcelona Spain. How is your experience there?   What was your motivation for studying abroad?  And what is the culture like in Spain?
A: I am in college studying fine art in Spain.  My experience in Barcelona cannot be described in one word. The architecture is breathtaking, and the open markets make your mouth water with their vibrant colors and fresh fruit. All the apartments have balconies with flowerpots and laundry drying on a string; its very picturesque. This city has granted me my first taste of flamenco dance. lI have been able to learn & converse with locals and others studying abroad. In addition to taking all my classes in Spanish, I have also learned a bit of Catalan, a dialect specific to Barcelona. I have been able to experience who I am as an artist outside of the United States while collaborating with other artist here as well. As for my decision and motivation to study abroad, my family is from Honduras and Puerto Rico and after having visited both countries several times, I developed an appetite to explore. I've learned that Spaniard way of life is much more relaxed than in the United States. The Spaniards rely on a basic schedule that allows time for
relaxation and work. Many work in the morning, have coffee break at around 11, siesta/lunch from 2-4pm,resume work at 5pm, and a late dinner at around 10-11pm. This took some time to get used to but it is such an efficient way to spread your time out-something I am not used to living in New York. Also many here are family oriented. Almost every Catalan I know goes back home every weekend to spend time and have dinner at home with their families. One interesting fact is that there are numerous  Spanish youth who wear their hair locked here. I have seen youth with hairstyles that are a mixture of a shaved head, curly bangs and long locs all on one head!

Q: What is your hair story?  Have you always had natural hair? Or did you experience a need to change at some point in your life?
A:   I have pretty much been natural my whole life. I've only had one perm and one texturizer in the 20 years I've been alive. My older sister has been a mother to my hair. I have adapted practically everything she has learned throughout her hair journey, except she now has loc's. When I was younger, she administered avocado, mayonnaise, and egg yolk treatments every weekend. All of that formed my hair journey. It was after I moved to Miami during high school that I began wearing my hair out in an afro. It was my high school friends that encouraged me to take a risk and let my hair be what it wanted. After Miami I moved to New York for college and saw so many other naturals which helped me further develop  confidence and I began trying new styles. I even dyed my hair a rusty blonde! Up until my move to Barcelona, I took New York's palette of style for granted. In Spain, it is a different type of stare that I get on the streets, one that shocked and made me uncomfortable at first. I have only recently begun wearing my hair out as I had to ease into being comfortable with the stares. Natural hair and personal style shouldn't be so shocking.

Q: Have you experience in any negativity or had any experiences because of your natural hair?
A:  Of course there are always strangers on the street who have something to say under their breath as soon as I pass by, even in the US. Some of my extended family members simply don't understand why I won't just get a relaxer, but with the negativity also comes admiration. Many appreciate the confidence required to rock such a bold hairstyle.

Q: What are three products you can't live without for nurturing/styling your hair?
A:  Honestly, I don't style my hair much. But when I do - olive oil for moisture, spearmint essential oil to tame dandruff. I find that Alaffia’s Every Day Shea Moisturizing Shampoo (its free of synthetic fragrances, parabens and sodium lauryl sulfate) and  a big toothed comb are an absolute must.

Q: What would you say to someone who's thinking about embracing their natural hair, but scared about being rejected in various parts of their lives?
A: At the end of the day, it is you and your hair. You have to face your fears to not only challenge your character but also to develop a sense of who you are! People cannot make those decisions for you. If you  are ready to embrace your natural self, then you must surround yourself with people who can accept you and encourage you.
Q: How can we keep up with you and your journey i.e. blog, twitter, facebook, fotki, tumblr, personal or professional website? (Optional)
A:  P U R P O S E jewelry blog  

Black & Spiro Annual Sale

I am delighted to announce the date of our highly anticipated annual Black & Spiro one day only sale.  There will be lots of wonderful things as always and very generous discounts.  We look forward to seeing you next Saturday 14th May.

Inspirational Photo of the Day

Beautiful photo from Christopher Maverick Photography.

Natural Hair Salon in Manhattan or Brooklyn???

Hello everyone,

I have a readers question. Kimberly is searching for a natural hair salon in Manhattan or Brooklyn. If you know of any salons or stylist, please respond to this post with the information. Thanks!

"I would love some help finding a good salon to get my hair done and keep it natural. I'm being "pressured" by my family to get it relaxed and cut short. I live in the Bronx so if you know of anyplace in Manhattan or Brooklyn, please let me know - Thanks,  Kimberly"

Cassidy's Natural Hair Event

 Photos from Cassidy's Naturals Night Out! To see more, check Cassidy's blog Natural Selection.

Photo Credits:
Karen - Naturally Beautiful Hair Blog Author
Nina Washington - Event Attendee
Last photo - Natural Selection Blog