Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Final Post & New Blog Launch

Dear Readers,

It is with mixed emotions that I post this, my final post for Greenjeans Blog, as I prepare to begin a new blog named Found Curve. As you have been such loyal readers over the years, I wanted to tell you about this change-over and invite you to come along with me.

I started Greenjeans Blog in April 2005, right after my now-husband Jae and I opened the doors to our tiny gallery and shop in Park Slope, Brooklyn. We didn’t have a website yet so I thought a blog might be a good alternative for a little while. And it was.

As Greenjeans grew so did the blog, both providing me a wonderful, indeed transformative experience of connecting with a community, learning about craft and sustainability, and gaining a sort of real-world MBA.

In summer 2008, we closed our location with the intention of reopening a larger space in a new neighborhood. With the unfolding of the global economic crisis, however, we decided to hold off and be a web-only enterprise for a while. We became regular vendors at the Brooklyn Flea, too. This was great for a while, but for me just wasn’t as fulfilling as running a permanent physical space. And so after months of deliberation, in May 2009 we closed our virtual doors as well.

I attempted to continue blogging, but it wasn’t as robust. Without a space or exhibitions to write about it all felt a little disjointed to me. As spring turned to summer and I started a new job in a different field, I couldn’t focus as much on the blog. So I took a break and during that time discovered I wanted to continue blogging, but needed to turn over a new leaf and start blogging afresh.

And so I started Found Curve.

Greenjeans Blog will remain fully live and all 706 posts are archived at this same original location right here, so all links to it should still work. I will likely post "from the Greenjeans Archives" on Found Curve from time to time.

The shape of Found Curve is still being discovered. In many ways it will be like Greenjeans Blog with virtual studio visits, craft and art world coverage, essays, reviews and experiences. But as it will no longer be tied to Greenjeans the shop and gallery, it will likely take on a form of its own over time.

One topic I hope to pursue here is that of barns, especially the barns of New England and upstate New York, as I begin a re-acquaintance with an old familiar passion.

It is exciting to be launching back into the blogosphere -- I have missed blogging and being a part of the amazing community that built itself around Greenjeans Blog! It is my sincere hope that I can make Found Curve into a meaningful place as I believe Greenjeans has been for many people, including myself.

Come with me onward now around the curve… and *thank you thank you thank you* for reading.

Very truly yours,

- Amy

A “found curve,” by the way, is a timber-framing term for a length of wood that is naturally bent in such a way that it is as structurally valuable as a built angle. I like the name for so many reasons – the reference to barn building, the idea of nature as designer, the way the two words look and sound together, the mental sensation they evoke...

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Quiet August, New Job

Hello Gentle Readers,

I just wanted to post a note to acknowledge how slow Greenjeans Blog has been lately.

It's simple, really: a few weeks ago I started a new job, and as with any new job it is taking some time to adjust. I work hard during the day and am tired when I am done. So for a little while longer, until I acclimate, I'll probably be a little quiet with the blogging.

The job is awesome: I'm a development (aka fund-raising) and communications writer for Millennium Promise, a non-profit organization devoted to meeting the Millennium Development Goals and eradicating extreme poverty. My job is to write enticing donor reports and grant proposals to keep the momentum going on the brilliant and impressively effective work taking place throughout sub-Saharan Africa. The field work puts into action economist Jeffrey Sachs' science-based "bottom-up" approach to international development, helping communities get their feet on the bottom rung of the development ladder and lift themselves out of extreme poverty.

It's a huge honor to be part of this work and to be surrounded by such brilliant people. And I love that I can work from home most days and then be a Midtown Worker Bee a couple days per week.

My passion for craft is still alive and well, it is just taking a summer holiday while I gain traction in my new job. Hopefully I'll be back in the swing of things in a couple of weeks, bringing you news and views from the craft world and beyond from my window seat here in Brooklyn.

Thanks for understanding, and for reading!


- Amy

Posted by Amy Shaw for Greenjeans.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Afternoon Snacks!

Hideous or Fabulous?

Posted: 21 Aug 2009 11:40 AM PDT

Londong-based artist Fabien Cappello is making furniture from discarded Christmas trees. I appreciate the idea, but not sure I'd love it in my house... (Via HAUTE*NATURE)

Sarah Applebaum's Knit Art

Posted: 21 Aug 2009 11:38 AM PDT

Seeing this all about the blogosphere today. Fun and wonderful!! (Via HAUTE*NATURE)

Etsy Moving to Dumbo

Posted: 21 Aug 2009 11:27 AM PDT

It's out with the old (location) and in with the new -- they'll be at 55 Washington (down the street from my house!) starting next week. Welcome to the 'hood! (Via The Storque)

Retailers Optimistic for 2010

Posted: 21 Aug 2009 11:12 AM PDT

Things are looking up, folks! (Via LOHAS)

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Afternoon Snacks!

Velvet Ribbon Belt with Rhinestone Buckle

Posted: 17 Aug 2009 08:15 PM PDT

I want this!! By bellebag on Etsy for $38. Etsy's blog, The Storque, is doing a great job covering the massive virtual craft and vintage sale that is Etsy. I'm loving what the various editors and guest bloggers are finding... (As soon as I get my first paycheck...!)

Make Roman Shades Out of Mini Blinds

Posted: 17 Aug 2009 08:05 PM PDT

THIS is what I've been waiting for: a do-able way to make shades for my windows using the fabric I want. Now to find some discarded mini blinds... (Via whip up)

Coverage of the Buyer's Market of American Craft

Posted: 17 Aug 2009 07:58 PM PDT

The summer BMAC is over in Philadelphia, but the organizer (Rosen Group) covered the show from the floor via their blog, Wholesale Matters. Nice for those of us who didn't get over there for it this year...

Cake Wrecks

Posted: 17 Aug 2009 07:45 PM PDT

I think this is a blog about crazy decorations on, maybe, supermarket cakes? In any case it's bananas. (Hat tip to Mason)

This Guy is Rad (click to see!)

Posted: 17 Aug 2009 02:19 PM PDT

Now THAT'S commitment to craft! [via Extreme Craft]

Robin Nagle Talks Trash

Posted: 17 Aug 2009 02:13 PM PDT

My former grad school prof Robin Nagle is the resident anthropologist of the NYC Dept. of Sanitation. Watch her awesome talk on how garbage defines us and the people who pick up after us. From the Gel Conference.

Old-school Handmade Athletic Gear

Posted: 17 Aug 2009 02:09 PM PDT

Super good-looking. By the Lineaus Athletic Company in Marfa, TX. [Via Cool Hunting]

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Alabama's Rural Studio in Metropolis Magazine

Tonight I finally got around to reading last month's issue of Metropolis magazine, and the interesting cover story about the Rural Studio in Alabama, a place where social justice and architecture meet. (You can read the article for free online: "Life After Sambo," July 2009.)

The article describes how Samuel "Sambo" Mockbee co-founded the studio in 1992, "determined to improve conditions for poor Southerners and teach architecture students how to make beautiful buildings. Soon, his devotees were schlep­ping three hours west to Hale County, Alabama... to sire 'shelter for the soul.' as Sambo would have said."

The Rural Studio's mission seems to resonate with that of Berea College in Kentucky, which produced the beautiful handmade brooms, umbrella stands, napkins, and placemats we carried at Greenjeans.

The article is an inspiring piece for anyone with passion for craft and social justice.

It also ties in nicely with tomorrow night's Salon with Bamboo Bikes at the American Craft Council, another socially-conscious craft-based project that I'll be reporting on here later.

Posted by Amy Shaw for Greenjeans.
Image sourced here.

Thursday, August 06, 2009

Etsy's Luster Tarnishing

If you haven't seen it yet, CNN Money published an interesting piece about Etsy a couple weeks ago written by Jessica Bruder. Discussing it as a business phenomenon, it goes in depth about its growth, as well as the more recent backlash.

There are many reasons to love Etsy, not the least of which is the fact that it's like a 24/7 global craft fair; an amazing online source of advice, how-tos, and celebration of the handmade; and has singularly transformed the marketplace for craft and handmade work. But we know that already.

More interestingly, the article highlights red flags, including the fact that earlier this year Etsy's visionary young founder, Rob Kalin, "quietly took himself off the payroll" citing that the site "was very incomplete and not up to my standards." He is still chair of Etsy's board.

(Kalin is now starting a new venture, called Parachutes, a craft collective based in Red Hook, Brooklyn. I've heard through the grapevine that this is a non-profit, but I don't know much else, and the website isn't filled out yet. As I learn more about this I'll report about it here.)

Another red flag is the fact that a major investor in Etsy is also on the board of Wal-Mart. Jim Breyer has felt the heat from Etsians, but stated last year, "It is possible to be the lead independent director of Wal-Mart and be absolutely passionate about art and crafted goods," he says. "Over time Etsy sellers, as well as Etsy shareholders, can do very well if we stay true to our mission." Seems like a double standard to me, but I don't know the guy myself.

Outrage over these issues and many others are voiced on blogs like Etsy Bitch which also lists online alternatives to Etsy such as Art Fire and Zibbet.

The article adds to the ire spouted in the piece that recently appeared in Double XX, which I blogged about in June.

What once seemed like a gleaming beacon of promise for craft continues to fade from glory. I don't think this has anything to do with the value or power of the handmade. Perhaps it's just a case that things that seem too good to be true usually are.

Posted by Amy Shaw for Greenjeans.

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Great Programs in Portland (MCC + PNCA + NGW)

In the past two days, the Museum of Contemporary Craft in Portland, OR, and their curator, Namita Gupta Wiggers, have announced two awesome programs that make me fantasize about moving to the Left Coast.

First, I heard the MCC has made free podcasts available of dozens of interviews, lectures, and exhibition walk-thrus. Listen to Otto Nazler, Glenn Adamsom, Denyse Schmidt, Mandy Greer, and many more. You can listen online or download them to iTunes, all for free.

This is a GREAT resource for the craft, art, and design worlds, no matter where in the world you live.

Then today I found out Gupta Wiggers, whom I admire a lot, is going to be offering a course this fall titled "History + Theory of American Craft" at the Pacific Northwest College of Art (which recently merged with the MCC). I would love to take that class, or at least hear the conversations it sparks.

(I'm not even sure if there's anything else like it in other U.S. colleges. If you know otherwise, please post a comment!)

The MCC has some really good-sounding exhibitions on view now, too, including Call + Response which "provides a rare platform for artists and art historians to engage with each with other in dynamic conversation."

I really like how the MCC is directly engaging with the need for different parts of the craft world to dialogue, and to reach beyond the realm of craft (i.e. art, design, academics) for important broader conversations.

They are also doing a good job of letting people know what they're up to through their newsletters and Facebook updates.

And even though I haven't actually visited (yet!), I am constantly excited and inspired by the work the MCC is doing. It gives me a feeling of gratitude and hope. I hope other institutions are taking notes!

ot that I'm counting, but this is my 700th blog post. Woot!

Posted by Amy Shaw for Greenjeans.
Image: Namita Gupta Wiggers (l) and Fiberarts editor Marci Rae McDade strike a pose before Darrel Morris’s emboridered piece, Pointing (2002). By Heather Zinger via Museum of Contemporary Craft.

Monday, August 03, 2009

Passing Strange and Wonderful: Richard Saja's Shelburne Show Reviewed in ReadyMade

This morning, tipped off by a Facebook status update by embroidery artist Richard Saja, I started my morning with a cup of coffee and the online version of ReadyMade magazine (Aug/Sept 2009 issue).

Saja is the subject of an unconventional exhibition at Vermont's Shelburne Museum this summer, and ReadyMade's Jen Turner was there to cover the story (right here: "How to Catch a Cabin").

The show is titled "The Bright and Shining Light of Irreverence" and features a quasi-domestic site-specific installation of a variety of Saja's work in the museum's Kalkin House. Saja invited a number of other regional artists to help fill out the show. Writes Turner, "Surprisingly enough, it all adds up to a welcoming place where one could imagine spending summer nights sipping mojitos and discussing the weird and wonderful world of Richard Saja."

Quilts, motorbikes, and Lewis Comfort Tiffany are the subject of other exhibitions on view this summer at the Shelburne. I can't imagine a more flavorful weekend trip.

The Bright and Shining Light of Irreverence: Richard Saja and the Historically Inaccurate School
Shelburne Museum
Thru October 25

How to Catch a Cabin
by Jen Turner
ReadyMade (Aug/Sept 2009)

Posted by Amy Shaw for Greenjeans.
Image by Laura Moss for ReadyMade.

Sunday, August 02, 2009

Afternoon Snacks!

Chinese Opera Built from Legos

Posted: 01 Aug 2009 05:13 PM PDT

I think Lego craft is always awesome, but this is particularly extraordinary. I like how the artist used the mini Lego guys as the "actors" in the bottom of the piece. (Hat tip to Dennis Yuen of Cai'lun <>!)

Friday, July 31, 2009

Afternoon Snacks!

French New Wave Films at MAD Museum

Posted: 31 Jul 2009 10:03 AM PDT

While I have strongly mixed feelings about the Museum of Arts and Design, I must confess my excitement about their summertime partnership with the Museum of the Moving Image to show some fabulous films in their beautiful new theater. This Sunday's double-feature: Vivra Sa Vie (Godard) and Jules et Jim (Truffaut). How can I resist??

Craft Fairs This Weekend Nationwide

Posted: 31 Jul 2009 09:21 AM PDT

Craftzine is publishing weekly lists of craft fairs as well as application deadlines. Check it out!

Gardening in a Pickup Truck

Posted: 31 Jul 2009 09:15 AM PDT

Some folks in Brooklyn have converted the back of an old Dodge into a container garden featuring tomatoes, lettuce, herbs, and habaneros. Take that, roof gardeners! (Actually, they're partnering with roof gardeners in Greenpoint, too.) (via Civil Eats)

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Weaving the Social Fabric - Goods of Conscience at ACC Salon

Father Andrew O'Connor is an unlikely fashion icon. Yet through his project Goods of Conscience, he has found a remarkable way to blend traditional weaving, organic cotton, community development, and an eye for style into a surprisingly chic combination.

As part of this year's Summer Salon Series at the American Craft Council, last week Father O'Connor, a Diocesan priest, presented his ideas about green craft to a live and online audience, guiding us all through his passionate story of preserving craft traditions and building a market for his sustainable style.

His story of is rooted in a social justice mission in a Mayan hill town in Guatemala. There a group of traditional back-strap weavers combine local, organically-grown and naturally dyed cotton with a highly unusual proprietary fiber (to undermine counterfeiting) into soft, luscious textiles in rich natural colors. (Read more about the process here.)

The lengths of fabric are weighed and then shipped up to the workshop in the South Bronx where Father O'Connor oversees a second mission at his home base, the Holy Family Church. There a small group of local artisans cut and sew the fabric, which arrives smelling of tortillas.

The finished garments are sold under the label Goods of Conscience. The artisans are all paid fair wages and the workshops are important sources of community pride and economic empowerment in both the Bronx and in Guatemala.

The finished products reflect this pride as well as the considerable skill required to produce them. Father O'Connor handed samples around to the audience to get a sense of the work, and I was impressed with the appealing designs and unquestionably high-end quality. These qualities are reflected in the prices, but as other forms of high-end craft remind us, the idea here to buy fewer high-quality things instead of lots of cheap, short-lived things. Certainly these classic yet edgy bags, jackets, dresses, and shirts are ones you want to live with, not trendy items you'll soon cast off. "Slow fashion" he called it.

When I asked Father O'Connor who designs the clothes, he said that he does. And where did he get his eye for fashion? "I grew up in Connecticut," he said with a cheeky smile. While the fabric reflects where it is made, the clothes don't fall prey to that "foreign language teacher" look so often associated with organic texture-rich fabrics.

On the contrary, it is quite Vogue-worthy, as the magazine's June 2009 shoot with Cameron Diaz attests -- those are Good of Conscience shorts she's wearing. He has started partnering up with the socially-minded fashionista Alabama Chanin on some projects as well.

Early on in his talk, he spoke of the notion that there may be a silver lining to the current economic downturn: the fall of the "egoistic consumer" and the curbing of over-consumption makes us focus on the resources we have ready to hand. Our modern sense of displacement and weakened sense of homeland might be repaired if we can get back in touch with the local and "make amends with the earth." He explained his point of view that green is communal, and that if don't want to imperil the earth, then we care about the actions of others as well.

Cultivating slowness. Craft as instinctively green. Teaching vanishing skills to the next generation. Making effort every day with every decision to live conscientiously of the environment and the social fabric. These are the lessons of Father O'Connor's work. The world is the better for his vision and the example he sets for how business can be done.


Bamboo Bikes - Find out how some socially-minded innovators are creating a new model for social entrepreneurship and development, using craft, DIY techniques, and natural resources.

Wednesday, August 12, 6:30-7:30 p.m., reception to follow
American Craft Council
72 Spring Street, 6th floor, New York, NY 10012.
Reservations are required and space is limited.Price: $10; $5 for students with current ID, Free for ACC members.
To rsvp, contact Kate at or call (212)274–0630 x272.

Posted by Amy Shaw for Greenjeans.
Image sources: top, middle, bottom.

Afternoon Snacks!

Mad Men Yourself

Posted: 29 Jul 2009 08:36 AM PDT

I am a HUGE fan of Mad Men, and love this silly little feature they've created where you can make a Mad Men icon of yourself. So fun!