When I have a problem to solve, my favorite question to ask is:  “What do I have that can help me solve this?“. I imagine Russell Wright quietly employing it with his credenza*, propping it on boulders to turn it uncommonly beautiful.

Asking “What do I have that can help me solve this?” makes me expand my senses and scan my data banks or surroundings for answers, often ones I hadn’t imagined before, or had forgotten. Its big illuminating lesson is, invariably, that I have a lot of resources, if I can only open myself up to seeing them…

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The answers aren’t always tangible and “resource” can mean many things.

Sometimes it’s a chance conversation that shifts my view or calms me down. It can be reaching out to someone who can guide, give info, make a connection. Or a book opening seemingly randomly with just the thing…

Yoko Ono’s Acorn via Sally Schneider

….Ah THERE’S the color pink I need…

Tantra Song/Franck André Jamme

Sometimes it’s an unexpected bit of something to use in a quick patch job. When the screw holes that held this mid-century chair’s back to its frame became stripped, the fix turned out to be a cross-tied piece of velvet ribbon that came via a birthday gift.

Sally Schneider

Sometimes answers come from random images that contain ideas I can steal. Seeing this huge ceiling height wall/door gave us the answer to a bedroom storage dilemma I’ve been mulling, though my space looks nothing like it…

Arno Brandlhuber
floor to ceiling mirror Arno Brandlhuber

And there are clothes forgotten in the back of the closet that can be fashioned in new ways: a sweater worn backwards, a dress cut down to make a blouse, even…

Staples in the pantry or scraps of this or that in the fridge that can be transformed into delicious things (mixing vinegars you’re not crazy about can yield a whole other, pleasing iteration)…

And of course, I scavenge the city as I wander, often finding myself scanning piles of materials at construction site for usable items. I spent an inordinate amount of time staring at the fairly pristine thick wood blocks I passed on the street one day, imagining ways to use them, scanning through my mental file of unfinished projects for ways I might put some of it to use.

Sally Schneider

Brilliant paper artist and Couturier de Cardboard, Matthew Sporzynski put it perfectly in his email with a photo of apartment building’s basement.

This is the sort of ‘situation’ I often examine for materials.

I tend to look at objects and think how they would look made from paper or cardboard. Conversely, I look at paper and cardboard and think of the objects they could become.

Matthew Sporzynski

As you know, I’m always squirreling away paper and boxes I find. The packing material Crate and Barrel is a favorite material for papier-mâché etc.

Matthew Sporzynski

It’s wonderful texture spurred Matthew to acquire the technology and equipment to replicate the effect and make “Fauxrigami” fashion illustrations, as well as his “stretch” money.

I once lived in Matthew’s building and found all sorts of treasures in that very spot, like the chair fixed with a ribbon, above.


Sometimes the “material” for solving a problem is simply to wait, in the uncomfortableness of not knowing the answer…


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Mathew is represented by Rona Represents; check out his work thereAnd here.  Photo of the red credenza by Don Freeman from the inspiring Artist’s Handmade Houses. Arno Brandhuber mirror via VosgeParis.

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