exploring art and design, one day at a time


Geodes 6, 7, and 8

Late last week I installed three new geodes in one location. They live at The Daily Dose, a little gem of a cafe in the Arts District of downtown LA. Sarkis, the owner, saw my geodes on Facebook and asked if I would add some to the cafe. Hell yes I will!

These three geodes are the most difficult I’ve done by far. They took me over three weeks to create, which is average for three geodes, but the amount of time per day put in was tripled. Each piece was precious since I knew they would be in a place where customers would be sitting for long periods of time, able to see every flaw.

Geodes number 7 and 8 were the challenging ones, the molds crumbled when I took them out. Putting them back together was a puzzle piece nightmare. I had to make both their casts twice because I made the glue mixture too strong and couldn’t get them off the molds. Also, while gluing the pieces in, I was constantly stressed and checking whether the folded nooks and crannies of the pieces would be too filled or if the whole piece was maleable enough for when I placed them in.

So much time and stress and these pieces were successfully created. I can’t believe they fit and I don’t know how big a puddle on the ground I would have melted into if it they didn’t.

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Geodes 6 and 7

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Geode #6

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Installation of Geode #7

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Installation of Geode #7

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Geode #7

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Geode #7, Closeup

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Geode #8 Installation

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Geode #8, It fits!

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Geode #8 Closeup

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Geode #8

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Geode #8, In the Cafe

Test Geode

For a long while I’ve known that I needed to figure out how to create geodes to fit into real cracks. I can’t depend on finding perfect pipes and missing bricks forever and I really can’t imagine spending hours longer gluing pieces directly into holes in the middle of the night. I’ve been scheming up this process that I’ve confirmed today—works!

Below is an image of a tester I made in our house. I wanted to do it inside so I could have control over the situation if anything didn’t work or needed extra time and care. The process includes making a mold of the crack, creating a cast of the mold with gauze-like cloth and homemade “size”, and following the rest of my old steps to completion. The inner shapes here are technically too large, I just used some extra pieces I had that would at least fit.

I rounded out this geode with a glossy red spray paint. I like it for our house because it kind of matches, but it doesn’t quite pop enough for the outside world. I am still on the hunt for metallics in other colors.

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Test Geode in Crack

Geode #5, Venice CA

My 5th geode has just been installed. This sort of replaces my 2nd geode that was recently stolen out of its pipe, hopefully this one lasts longer (it’s going to be hard to rip this sucker out, wink). Technically this one’s color is “brass” but it looks a lot like the “gold”, I’ll be switching up the colors of these soon.

The location of this new geode is at 1661 Abbot Kinney Boulevard in Venice CA, my first geode on the west side. Happy new year!

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Gedoe #5, Venice CA

quartz, crystal, mineral formations, street art

Geode #5, Venice CA

quartz, mineral, crystal formations, street art

Geode #5, Venice CA

Geode #3, Deterioration

There were heavy rains (which means a heavy sprinkling in LA) in December. The third geode I created, in the corner of a building on Spring between 7th and 8th, has started to fall apart and deteriorate. The images below show how parts of it have fallen off onto the sidewalk and left some gaping holes in the geode construction.

Now this is something I was prepared for and am happy about. I know these are all “temporary” installations because of people and weather. I realized after two geodes were stolen that I can’t really emotionally deal with the people problem, but I can deal with the weather problem. Erosion is so cool, it’s a natural response to nature and the effects I think are still beautiful. Paper does unfortunately erode incredibly quick so I do plan on starting to explore other materials. I’d also like to find a way to combat the “people problem”, but I’m not sure I want to disclose that yet. To be continued…


Geode 03 Deterioration

Geode 03 Deterioration

Geode #4

Today I placed Geode #4 into its home in Echo Park. It lives in the wall of the Taix French Restaurant right off of Sunset.

This one was actually the very first geode I ever made. It was the largest by far and meant to fit in a wall in the Arts District but I sadly had mis-measured by an inch all around (I didn’t understand the foreign tape measure I was using). I luckily found this new hole on Taix while on my way to brunch last weekend. It was only larger by a little all around, so I took my original apart and remade it. It was easier than cutting it away and making it smaller.

I put it in this afternoon and it didn’t exactly fit in the end so I have plans to revisit during the night this weekend and do a little mending.

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Geode #4 Placement


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Geode #4, Echo Park


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Geode #4, Echo Park

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Geode #4, Echo Park


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Geode #4, Echo Park

Geode #3, Downtown LA

Here’s geode number 3! This one lives on the east side of Spring Street between 7th and 8th Streets. It was such a huge challenge to figure out how to properly handle this space—this one looks like Frankenstein on the back end. I changed my mind a dozen times on how to fit the piece and decide where the geode formations should go.

I first measured and went home and built the piece to fit. I went back and tried to put it in but quickly realized there were major mortar and brick pieces in my way in the seams of the hole (where the missing mortar is). I decided to shorten the length of the mortar areas and not the depth but realized then I would have to create hundreds of those teeny tiny shapes to fit. So then I shortened the depth of the mortar areas so I could cosmetically make it seem like it goes deep but someone hasn’t chiseled that far back yet.

Somehow, even after testing, the geode didn’t fit when I went back to install! I had to mash it in, causing a few tears. I also had to cut part of it away at the top, that’s why you see scissors on the ground as I’m installing below.

I wish I could have filled every mortar area missing but I simply don’t have the man-power at this time. Therefore, this was an excellent test. I’m not totally happy with it, but glad I figured something out and learned some lessons.

Crystal, Mineral, Quartz Formations

Geode Placement Into Wall

Crystal, Mineral, Quartz Formations

Geode on Spring Street

Crystal, Mineral, Quartz Formations

Closeup of Geode on Spring Street

Mineral, Quartz, and Crystal Formations, Downtown LA

Closeup 2 of Geode on Spring Street

Quartz, Mineral, Crystal Formations, Downtown LA

Geode on Spring Street

A New Geode In Progress

A quick look at the new geode I’m making. These paper shapes will go in a space about .25″ high. I want to challenge myself as I move forward with these, how small can I make them? How big can I make them?!


Tiny Paper Shapes for a Geode

Golden/Pipe Geode in Progress

As I work on my next geodes and installations for downtown Los Angeles, I’d like to post a few in progress images of the second geode I created. This one was a test to see if I could do a geode this small, as the first couple I did were much larger. The next few images are of the piece in progress—not painted, still fitting the last pieces in to fill space, and a view of it in size relation to my hand. You can also see the types of shapes I’m building first in order to puzzle the whole thing together. I am using mathematical nets to create solid figures such as pyramids, truncated tetrahedron, and rhombic prisms.

Pipe Geode In Progress

Pipe Geode In Progress, Size

Pipe Geode and Its Puzzle Pieces


A Golden Geode

Last night I placed my second geode. This one is in a little more high traffic area on Traction (near 3rd), right near Novel Cafe. I felt we should be a little more discreet placing and documenting this one since every time I went to measure and check the pipe there were at least 10 people standing nearby. Therefore we placed it and took the photos last night versus during the day. The images are very dark, but I was obliged to keep them that way, the geode looks pretty cool shining out even at night. Happily, this morning, my friend Bryan who works a couple doors down spotted it all on his own and took a bright iphone photo, below.

This one is about 2.875″ wide around the outer ring and gets smaller .5″ deep. The much smaller shapes for the geode were definitely a challenge to build. It was helpful that my nails were long so I could fold more delicately the past week. This one is painted a metallic gold, which I think helps contrast it from the gray pipe. The paint unfortunately did not like my glue—after I sprayed it the first time, I went out to check and all the glue had fallen apart and the geode looked combusted. I spent hours re-gluing with a tougher glue. The fun of art lessons!

Gold Geode, Daytime


A Man-Made Geode

The past couple weeks I have been working hard to produce this project and finally today I have something to show for it.

In my strolling around downtown Los Angeles, I’ve come across more than one large hole where a brick or something similar has fallen out of a building. After some time, I finally was able to concentrate on creating these paper geodes to fill some of these holes. I was originally planning on creating mini paper scenes to fill the holes, but after the concept grew in my brain, I thought something man-made of a natural shape would be an excellent fit to a man-made building. The below image is a close up images of the paper geode I’ve created. The gallery gives you a tiny tour of where the geode now lives, on 3rd street at the corner of 3rd and Traction.

I think the most interesting part of this project will be how long it actually lasts. This would be a type of street art, but unlike most tagging, it’s hard to see as you’re strolling the street. It will take an astute observer to see the building addition and an annoying, astute observer to decide it doesn’t belong there.

I plan on adding more geodes around downtown. It will take some time as I’m completing them on my own and it’s a ton of cutting, folding, gluing, puzzling together… I hope they last longer than a day.

Geode Closeup 1

PVC Grid, Stop Motion Setup

Stop Motion Grid, Full Set Up

PVC Pipe Grid

Bishop/Tuzin Logo Closeup

Full Shot of Cloud Set Up

Things are finally starting to happen! I’ve been bribing Greg with dinner at Pizzeria Mozza and massages in order to get him excited to make me things. He would have done these things anyway, but I like to give some extra energy into the project.

This week, after much trial and error, Greg has dreamed up and created a PVC pipe grid. The grid will be used for two projects, the first one I’ve already started setting up. The above pictures show first, the full set up. The second photo is an image of the grid, it’s a little warped because it’s not that strong (we’re not rich enough to buy steel or anything). Third, is the finished logo I created for Bishop/Tuzin out of paper already nestled in the clouds.

The last image is a straight on shot of the logo in the clouds. I made quite a few clouds from my first batch of pillow stuffing but I had to get more to fill in the background today. So far, so good. The really tricky part will be the camera set up and move…poor Greg needs to create a rolling camera rig so that we can zoom into the clouds and move up. Stay tuned!

Side note: sorry for the blurry images.

Zombie City, Part 4

Failed Building Designs

Jonah Ray, Zombie City

A few weeks ago I noticed a design competition with an awesome section called “Never Saw the Light of Day”.  I knew just the project I would submit, but alas, I had never even completed it. This got the gears working again on my project for Jonah Ray, that was left unused and unfinished because of some work issues.

I set to work making a paper downtown Los Angeles. This just means finding a semi-decent image of the downtown skyline and drawing some of the buildings via illustrator or my hand. The first image were a couple tests I created, they were colored to match the actual image I was using. After a few test shots (including my own iphone test with giant roaming kitty in the background) I decided I didn’t want color and that the largest building you see should actually be the smallest in scale. Moving forward, all buildings would be white with black outlines, a more stylized version of the buildings that match the zombies already created and the television sets I have built (see the bottom photo for final buildings!).

In my original plans, I had a giant puppy dog in the scene. That makes the giant live kitty in the first image incredibly appropriate. The kitty won’t be the direction in the end, I’m going to draw some kind of dog to match the rest—a chihuahua or wiener dog—something terribly non threatening. I’ll have the final image up soon and I can finally call a second paper art project actually complete. Weird.

Partly Foggy

Partly Foggy

Continuing my setup for the stop motion video mentioned in my last post, my studio has gathered a low hanging fog…

Stop Motion Prep

Bishop/Tuzin Cloud Test

I’m preparing for a short stop motion film for my friends’ website. They are starting a new brand for screen writing and filmmaking together and we need some imagery. The idea is to create several short videos that are classically cinematic and then use them super-sized, running in the background of their content. One image they’ve created is the well-used flying through stormy clouds, lightning flashing, and coming across the logo floating in the air. I decided to “Michel Gondry” the idea by creating a stop motion video of the idea. I started with the paper letters that I’ve already created and am now creating and test shooting the clouds (seen above). The clouds will keep me busy for a while, then on to the foil lightning bolts.

Profile Pic

Cambria Typeface, Paper Letter

I recently rocked my letter “B” paper construction for my friend’s facebook profile photo. The typeface is Cambria bold, approximately 3″ high. I went for it and added serifs this time to these paper constructions with great success. I have a full logo for Bishop/Tuzin created—I’ll post that next.

Perfectly Blurry Stop Motion Test

A COMMON NAME, Stop Motion Test from Julian Paige Smith on Vimeo.

My very first foray into stop motion. Yes I know it’s blurry, yes I know it’s fast, but yes I do think it’s fun. I got the concept down, now onto the equipment…

Post Brunch Work Day

Sunday Work Day

Chrome Painted Houses

Chrome Painted Houses Huddled Together

Chrome Houses Close Up

Many years ago I created these houses out of clay. They were fired without glaze because our school’s glaze was pretty much of home made quality and I didn’t trust it. I wanted some Dr. Suess type colors—pink and purple and green and red—that were bright and brilliant. Thus, they went uncolored for many years. The other day, I woke up and had the idea to just spray paint them chrome. The next day I bought the paint, the next day they were painted. I love their new color and what a great feeling to finally finally finally finish.

Printed On All of the Books

In reference to my bookcase post, I just finished writing all of the numbers on the books. I painted, cut, constructed, wrote, and decorated 2,931 of them.  My hand hurts.

Plenty More to Do—Emily in the Afterlife

Emily in the Afterlife Bookcases

Twelve bookcases filled with books and four more to go! I see the light at the end of the tunnel for this project and I’ve been working my butt off to get here. I’m so excited to get this done that I’m actually having fun doing it now. It’s an ironic feeling, I always enjoyed doing this work, but sometimes when you know you have days of work ahead of you you grudgingly move forward. Now I’m sprinting and smiling the whole way through. Onward!!

Poster Bookcases

The Story of Emily in the Afterlife, Book Design

Jeez! Months and months ago I started this project; and each step has taken forever and/or I’ve procrastinated starting. I’m on the final step of building this piece—the books. I created the bookshelves about three months ago, the text about four months ago, the trees five months ago, and so on…

The Story of Emily in the Afterlife is a script that my friends Gregory Tuzin and Brent Bishop (now Bishop/Tuzin) have written. I’m designing perhaps an over-the-top design for their poster to help advertise the package. The final set-up will be 4′ x 6′ large, something Gregory will be setting up and lighting for ultimate effect. I’m still not going to share the sketch of the whole piece, so here is the latest small piece I’ve finally started to tackle.

The bookshelves above are made of foam core and the books are pieces of wood (usually used by architecture students) lined up and painted. These shelves will not be photographed this close up or with so much light, so the end product will appear to have more depth and show less flaws.

Paper – Cigarette Ash Landscape

Cigarette Ash Landscape

Cigarette Ash Landscape Installation

Cigarette Ash Landscape installation

I love this Cigarette Ash Landscape installation a friend posted from Designboom. The cigarette forms were created by Yang Yongliang. Check out both of their sites for more amazing work.

Burton Products

Burton Campaign Ad

While flipping through Nylon this month, I noticed this awesome ad by Burton. It’s not the exactly something I’ve never seen, but I love that there is no digital typography in this ad. I’ve always been a huge fan of using major amounts of imagery and teeny tiny small typography, the imagery is more interesting! But when you can find a solution that is unobtrusive, thank you. This is the kind of tactile design I like to see, especially since I’ve been hand building my typography lately. This is the type of work I’d love to integrate my design career with.

Furry Pals Help Me Design

A Common Name, Dog Upset

Cat Declines A Common Name

Fixing My Photo Set Up

While starting photo shoots for my new brand, A Common Name, I got a few distractions. There are a few too many adorable animals trying their own layouts or probably just flat out disapproving my designs. They are way too cute to get mad at, so we happily documented their ideas..