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An artistic collaborative of artists, designers, makers and craftsmen focused on the creation of unique experiences and conceptual environments.  Building moments to be explored and remembered through the conception and creation of custom art installations, interior design, events, set design, styling & visual merchandising.

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Filtering by Category: Education

Easter Art Party: Pollock Eggs

Nikole Nelson

 Photo by Nurry Kwon

Photo by Nurry Kwon

Spring is in the air and Easter is upon us. This month I took my inspiration from the queen of crafty herself: Martha Stewart. With a few custom touches, a splash of fun and lots of messy fingers, an Easter Art Party was born. My 3 year old son Koa and 6 of his buddies dove right in. It was the perfect exploration of texture and color and can be adapted for any age group. By taking your average panty dry good, food coloring and a little imagination you can create your own Pollock egg experience. A few tips to help you make your project a success:

Get outside. It gets messy. We used blue painters tape to secure the cups during preparation and protect against the natural elements (very windy day).

If working with children gauge your audience and their attention span. You want to set yourself up for success - I pre-dyed all the eggs giving them a base color.

You're going to need a lot of food coloring - I used 4 boxes in total with 7 dozen eggs. Get creative and mix custom colors. Periodically add food coloring to the dry goods - just enough to keep them damp.

Use foods that are white - they look more dynamic and exciting when dyed.

Beans are the best! Kidney beans, black eyed peas, small white beans - the food coloring stays damp longer. 

The size of the food makes a difference in the texture pattern - make sure to vary sizes so your final product is visually interesting and irregular. 

Items like peanuts and sunflower seeds take a lot of food coloring. They absorb and dry quickly. I did like how these materials provided a more subtle pattern which is why I included them for our kids. 

Above all don’t be afraid to experiment and get dirty! Happy dying and a hui hou!

Ni'ihau Shell Leis: A May Day Tribute

Nikole Nelson

Intricate patterns, diverse styles and vivid colors of the Ni'ihau shell leis.

Aerial view of Ni'ihau.

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Hawaiian Queen Emma wearing multiple strands of Ivory colored Ni'ihau leis.

Shells are first gathered and sorted for color and size.

Each shell is cleaned of debris, pierced and strung.

I own this style and LOVE it. Very sacred to me.

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Layered shells form unique texture.

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Photograph by Tomas del Amo

As a young girl I was fasinated by the layered shell patterns of the Ni'ihau leis and find myself even more intrigued today. If you have never heard of Ni'ihau your not alone. Nick named The Forbidden Isle visitors to this part of the Hawaiian chain are rare. Privately owned, the Hawaiian traditions, language and culture are still very much alive.

In celebration of May Day we take a moment and pay tribute to the intricate beauty of the Ni'ihau shell lei. Ni'ihau holds some of the greatest shell craftsmen known. The island is very dry and lacks enough rainfall to support the blossoms of the traditional flower lei; the shell lei served as an exquisided substitue. 

I will be forever in awe of the artisans who create these timeless pieces. Their patience is astounding. Those shells are tiny! 

Happy May Day and A hui ho! 

Aloha Mural!

Nikole Nelson

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Our blank canvas: a 200 foot long concrete wall. This was once an equally unsightly chain link fence dividing the playground from a busy street. I believe I willed this wall into existence - I've always dreamed of painting a mural here and it manifested! 

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There was definite progress after the first couple of days. The sky was blocked in over the silhouetted mountains and the beginning layers of the dripped paint was completed by the 1st grade class. They really had some fun with it! 

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My awesome 8th grade team of assistants and our mascot, Makana!

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There are moments in one’s life where you see things come full circle and your path, with all of its crazy unexpected wild rides, appears as a seamless puzzle layered to perfection. I started my career as an artist at home in Lahaina in the comforts of familiar surroundings in a small bubble of protected love, friendship, community and devotion. Teaching at Sacred Hearts School was one of the most profound experiences of my life. It was there I found my confidence as a creator; it was there I was inspired daily by the gorgeous artwork and expression of 250 children whom I dearly loved; it was there my beloved mentor, friend and Hani mother Maryanna Waldrop handed me $500 to buy canvas, paint and brushes leaving me no more excuses to reach for my dreams; and it was also there that I was kicked out of the nest to spread my wings on the East Coast, reaching for the stars at Savannah College of Art and Design.

That was 15 years ago. You don’t realize how far you have traveled until you are standing on the same playground, with the same church bells ringing, echoed by children’s laughter and of course the ever present power of the same Sacred Hearts School powerhouse goddess-worthy women.  I began 2012 with this experience - returning home to teach once more, leading 200 students through a lesson of layers to both self-expression and the powerful understanding of true collaboration. Seeing their faces light up as they watched colors blend and drip down the wall was dynamic! I love to take kids out of the ordinary with art – remove the expected tools and limitations, the parameters of the edges of paper. Giving them a 240’ long canvas on which to discover a new dimension of what art can feel like is an experience they will carry through life. It changes their perception and teaches the most powerful lesson of all: It is not what you are seeing but how you are seeing it. It teaches them to see their surroundings with limitless vision and potential. It gives them freedom and that is a gift beyond measure.

What compounded the experience and the sense of time passing was that in addition to teaching this course I was reunited with one of my first students, a star artist of his own right, now a professional photographer John Carpenter. The last time I saw him he was a crazy little kid, creating colorful paintings deep with emotion.  Now he’s a man with a beard! Wild indeed! He captured the event beautifully AND jumped right in with the painting – reciting word for word things I had taught him about composition, line, movement, blending – he remembered it all! If you have ever been a teacher you know what this moment feels like, when you see the difference you’ve made. I am so proud of his accomplishments, drive and success.

Many thanks to the amazing students who joined me in inspired collaboration creating a lasting mural memory and to my beloved ohana SHS for all the love over the years. I am honored to be a part of the family.

View Full Project

Photography by JMC Photography and Bonnie Blackmore.

The Making of a Designer: My SCAD Story

Nikole Nelson

This summer in the last stages of production on the New Balance Experience store, my alma mater Savannah College of Art and Design, stormed Red Hook to film my studio in action. It was an incredible honor to be able to share the richness SCAD has contributed to both my education and life as a whole. Please sit back and enjoy the next 3 minutes as I share my journey, passion, crazy notions and ever-evolving vision. Many mahalos to all who helped me get here; it's been a wild ride indeed!