Lucy Sparrow's all-felt supermarket now open in LA

UK artist Lucy Sparrow is back with a new shopping opportunity for lovers of her fantastic felt products.

Until August 31, at The Standard hotel in downtown Los Angeles, Sparrow is showing her most ambitious exhibit yet: the Sparrow Mart Supermarket. This is her fifth and largest all-felt installation (it features 31,000 handmade products) and her first West Coast one.

She writes, "As a child, I was obsessed with the exotic, turbo-charged technicolour glow emanating from across the Atlantic. The source of this neon rainbow was Los Angeles – a seemingly mythical place to a child growing up in grey, post-recession Britain – and one that has hugely influenced my artistic practice. Thanks to the amazing team at The Standard, Downtown, the felt is finally coming home to the city of endless possibilities and colour.”

The store is quite spectacular. There's aisles of handmade awesomeness, including a felt ATM, as you can see here:

According to Sparrow (in this video), it took her and five assistants exactly one year to create all the items in the shop.

Special thanks to my friend Michael Fleming for the heads up on this! I hope I can get myself down to LA before the end of the month to check it out for myself. For those of you who don't know, I'm a Fluff superfan (long story). So, when Michael texted me from the store to see if I wanted one of Sparrow's felt Fluff jars, I was ecstatic. He delivered it today and it already as a special spot in the Fluff section of my trophy case. Read the rest

The Mid-Century Supper Club revives kooky recipes of yore

When I was a kid, my grandmother's holiday go-to dish was a mayo-topped carrot and pineapple Jell-O salad (I still despise mayonnaise to this day).

In the 70s, I remember flipping through my mom's cookbooks and recipe cards looking at all the questionable creations inside. Looking back I can see that the recipes were targeted to ambitious homemakers with plenty of time on their hands. Ungodly (in)edibles like aspic-glazed lamb loafs (below), cocktail weenie trees, and ambrosia salad immediately come to mind.

My pals Karen Finlay and Jennye Garibaldi were also fascinated by the elaborate dishes within these cookbooks. So much so that in 2007, after meeting like-minded folks in a Mid-Century Supper Club Flickr group, the duo started hosting themed potluck parties where invitees were asked to whip up vintage recipes to share with other the guests.

The Mid-Century Supper Club (MCSC) potluck was born and it soon became a big success.

In 2008, the first potluck was held in Karen's Oakland, California flat. By the end of 2012, the annual party had gotten so big that it had to be moved to a rental venue. For the past few years, it's found a home at the (amazing, old school) Eagles Hall in downtown Alameda, California.

A good deal of the MCSC's charm is that it's more than just about re-creating a vintage dish. It's about going all in. To be sure, presentation is key, as laid out in the official rules:

If you've ever looked through vintage cook books and booklets, you know that in the mid-century era, creative and stylish presentation was almost as important as the taste of the food...judging by some of the ingredients, maybe more so!

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