Saturday, December 31, 2005

Greenjeans' Year in Review

As 2005 draws to a close, Jae and I reflect on some of the events, landmarks, and happy times we’ve had over the past year. There are lots of links here to great places we’ve visited and discovered over the year, so check ‘em out!

Happy New Year everyone! See you next year!!

2005 In Review

- We sign the lease for a little storefront at 449 7th Avenue in Park Slope on Christmas Eve, 2004
- Dozens of studio visits with artisans all around New England, New York, and Brooklyn (January – June)
- Trip to the Berkshires to visit Greenjeans' artisan Mary Anne Davis and tour Hancock Shaker Village. Stayed at the Chambéry Inn, an 1885 schoolhouse converted into huge suites complete with slate chalkboards and tin ceilings (Jan. 12)
- Our first craft fair as retailers! American Craft Council's Wholesale Show in Baltimore (February 2005)
- The Gates! (Feb. 12-28)
- Sam arrives in Brooklyn from Chicago with the minivan Jae’s cousin gave us for free. Sam meets the lovely Carrie for the first time… (Feb. 17)
- Book release party for Tom de Zengotita at NYU for his amazing must-read, Mediated (March 7)
- First day of business. Big dinner afterwards with friends and family at Sea in Williamsburg (March 9)
- Charles and Gretchen introduce us to the culinary wonder of Schnack (March 17)
- Sarah Pershouse brings her 5th graders from PS 295 to learn about small businesses (March 18)
- Mention of Greenjeans’ opening in the Park Slope Reader (Spring 2005 issue)
- We discover the Kitano Hotel for great live jazz and cocktails (April 2)
- Sold our first Shaker Chair! (April 15)
- International Exposition of Sculpture Objects & Functional Art (SOFA) at the Park Avenue Armory (June 2-5)
- Aliki & Dan’s wedding at the gorgeous Tribecca Rooftop (June 12)
- Trip to the Bronx Zoo for a change of pace (June 20)
- Mention and photo of Greenjeans appears in NICHE magazine (Summer 05 issue)
- Jody and I drive up to Maine to be reunited with our long-lost high school friends Greg and Heide and meet their amazing kids Oliver and Guthrie (July 4th weekend)
- Amy & Sung’s (Jae’s brother) wedding engagement party! (July 10)
- Official Grand Opening of Greenjeans. Big dinner afterwards at Java down the block. (July 21)
- League of NH Craftsman’s Fair at Mt. Sunapee (Aug. 8)
- Article about Greenjeans appears in Crafts Business Magazine (Sept/Oct issue)
- Jae and Ruth go to the Rolling Stones concert in Madison Square Garden (Sept. 15)
- White Stripes concert at Keyspan Park in Coney Island (Sept. 25)
- Mention and picture of Greenjeans appears in American Craft magazine (Oct/Nov issue)
- Jae and Amy's Wedding in Portsmouth, NH (Oct. 8)
- Spontaneous honeymoon at Mohonk Mountain House in New Paltz, NY
- Hrag throws us a fabulous wedding party in DUMBO, Brooklyn at Jason’s loft (Oct. 15)
- Performance of Greenjeans artisan and dancer/choreographer/costumer Rebecca Davis’ dance piece “The birds are here. I hear them” at The Chocolate Factory (Oct. 28)
- Tom Dubois’ bocote stem vase appears in Domino magazine (Nov. issue)
- Got our new 100% natural Talalay latex mattress in an organic cotton casing hand-sewn by an Amish couple in Ohio. Bought it from North Star Beds. Our sleeping lives are changed forever… (Nov. 17)
- Jae takes me for a wonderful birthday dinner at Brooklyn's divine organic restaurant Applewood (Nov. 10)
- Holiday Crafts fair at Park Avenue Armory. We meet Dan Dustin and his magical spoons (Dec. 3)
- Craft Fair at PS 321 (Dec. 10)
- Too many craft fairs to count! (all of Dec.)
- Transit worker’s strike leads Brooklynites to shop locally for the holidays. We have stellar sales! (Dec. 20-22)
- Tom Dubois' yew wood bark vase appears as a Fresh Find in Natural Home & Garden magazine (Jan/Feb 2006 issue)
- Christmas Eve in Westchester with Jae's family. Christmas Day in NH with my family.
- New Year’s Eve 7-course dinner at Sakura, the outstanding Japanese restaurant on 5th Ave. in the Slope.
- Fireworks at Grand Army Plaza at midnight!!

Wishing everyone peace, joy, love, and light! - Amy Shaw & Jae Kim

Thursday, December 29, 2005

Greenjeans in the Press!

Greenjeans artisan Tom Dubois' yew wood vase is a "Fresh Find" in the latest issue of Natural Home and Garden magazine!

"Woodturner Tom Dubois imagines that 'the spirit of the tree is found and released in a new form' in each wooden vessel he creates. Dubois' pieces are extraordinary for their variegated coloring and smooth texture. Yew wood-bark vase: $80. (718) 907-5835;"

See page 15 of the January/February 2006 issue to see it in person.

Wow, press kits really work!

Congratulations, Tom! And thanks, Natural Home and Garden!

Saturday, December 24, 2005

Happy Holidays!

It has been an eventful and intensely busy week, and we are very tired but very happy. Today is Christmas Eve and we will be open until 5pm. Then we have to close the shop and head up to spend the evening with Jae’s family in Westchester. Tomorrow morning bright and early it’s off to New Hampshire to spend Christmas Day with my family. We’ll be up there for a couple of days visiting with friends and relatives and getting some fresh winter air. Then it’s back to NYC on Tuesday night.

We will re-open on Wednesday, and will resume blogging then, too.

Until then, we wish all our blog readers and customers a very Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Joyful Kwanza, Solstice Greetings, and in the immortal words of George Costanza's dad, it’s Festivus for the rest of us!

Thursday, December 22, 2005

New Artisan: Frances Dunston

Frances Dunston has transformed the kitchen of her West Midwood home into a veritable soap-making factory. With the support of her husband, children, and a local small-business development network, she has launched LeOna Hurnice, a brand new line of mild, lightly scented glycerin and castile soaps that prove soap can have soul.

After raising five children and working full time for many years, Fran found herself nearing burn-out and decided the time had come for her to rediscover who she was and what she wanted out of life. Soap-making appealed to her, so she took a class to learn the basics and started experimenting at home. With her friends and family as willing testers and her teenage daughter her toughest critic, she developed a small line of products that are simple, mild, and long-lasting with no additives or preservatives. She made up labels and chose straightforward clear packaging so that the beauty and simplicity of the soaps stand as their own strongest selling point.

Though simple, LeOna Hurnice soaps are far from dull. The glycerin soaps come in pretty colors (purple, yellow, green, pink) and carry a very light orange patchouli fragrance. The loofah soap is a round glycerin soap with a slice of loofah suspended inside so you get some exfoliating action with your wash. The unscented castile soap is as classic as it gets: olive oil, water, and lye. And then there are the wonderful bath bombs (or, to be more pacifistic, bath fizzies) that create a wonderful geranium-rosemary scented mineral soak in your tub.

Fran and her helpful son delivered our order last weekend and already it is half sold out. But we hope to carry the fine, classic soaps of LeOna Hurnice at Greenjeans for a long time to come.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Transit Strike Chic

Today the city's mass transit workers went on strike shutting down all subways and busses in all five boroughs. People trying to get into the city had to either car pool, ride their bike, or walk, making for a fairly dramatic morning commute. Granted it has been extremely inconvienent for people, but in another respect it's kind of chic -- practically like living in Paris!

Where we are in the southern end of Park Slope, Brooklyn, many people opted to skip work today rather than hike the several miles through the cold to their offices in Manhattan. But evidently, rather than stay home, they came out in force to holiday shop.

This was good news for Brooklyn shops like Greenjeans. Sales in Manhattan may have been down dramatically today, but us Brooklyn shops had nothing to complain about! In terms of foot traffic, today was the busiest day we've ever had. There was hardly a minute that passed when there wasn't someone in the shop looking around. Many said they were glad to have the opportunity to check out the local shops, and we'd have to agree with them.

We hope that the transit workers and the MTA are able to come to an amenable agreement very soon so that everything can get back to normal. But in the meantime, we hope local residents will take this opportunity to continue to enjoy the neighborhood. Because shopping locally is always chic.

(Thanks to Only the Blog Knows Brooklyn for picking up this post!)

Monday, December 19, 2005

Notes on a Monday

This weekend, with weather so fair and days before Christmas so few, we had our busiest two days yet. Everyone seemed to be finding plenty of pleasing gifts and the mood was festive and fun. Today we are bushed, but it has been mercifully slow, with only a dozen or so customers coming in to look around and only a few purchases. We are looking forward to a long winter's nap tonight.

I wanted to share this picture today of the nativity set made by shop favorite Jane Kaufmann. We had good fun setting it up, using the shop's cactus to indicate the desert and setting the angel into flight by magic. (Ok, it's Jae's handy work with fishing line, see upper left.) We added the moose, cat, and snowman since we don't have any handmade donkeys, sheep, or other appropriate stable creature to include. But the set includes the 3 wise men, the angel Gabriel, 2 shepherds, Mary and Joseph, and the baby Jesus in a little manger. It is a little irreverent as her sculpture tends to be, but it makes for a wonderful holiday piece.

I also wanted to mention an article I read in the New York Times yesterday about how artists, artisans, and others in the "creative class" are moving out of NYC due to the increasingly high cost of living here compared with other cities around the country -- "New York, Once a Lure, Is Slowly Losing the Creative Set" by Jennifer Steinhauer. It's an interesting read, but it didn't tickle my feet -- Greenjeans is here to stay.

Saturday, December 17, 2005

New Artisan: Chelle Kraus

Today we debuted a new line of jewelry at Greenjeans by Manhattan-based artisan Chelle Kraus.

Chelle makes substantial, highly wearable silver pieces including earrings cast from ginko leaves and cuff bracelets impressed with shells and trilobyte that look almost like fossils. My favorite piece is the "porthole" cuff bracelet -- it looks amazing on, chic and funky at the same time. Most of her pieces have an appealing brushed surface, and they are all beautifully crafted and thoughtfully designed. Prices range from $45-$220. We will be getting more in once they're ready, so stay tuned...

And as with most other things at Greenjeans, no one else in the NYC area has these pieces, so if you're still looking for a thoroughly unique gift for someone who has seen it all, Chelle's jewelry would be just the thing!

Friday, December 16, 2005

Gift Ideas for Under $50

Hope everyone is finding wonderful gifts this holiday shopping season. If you're looking for interesting, beautifully handcrafted items, Greenjeans has great finds for under $50, including...
(click here for slideshow of items listed)

- Classic wooden toys (including fire trucks, waddle ducks, & sail boats that float) made in Maine by Frank Ridley (from $7, most $15-$40)

- Fun and funky Raku finger puppets (characters include "Gardening Angel," "Chocolate Moose," & "Woman with Balls," $24 each) and orbs (poppies, landscapes, $35-$38 each) by Jane Kaufmann

- Christmas stockings in pleasing colors and patterns made from reclaimed fabrics by local artisan Jennifer Lawrence ($48 each)

- Eclectic handmade sketch books and albums by local artisan and art teacher Beth Riemer ($18-$48)

- Lovely pottery tea bowls and mugs by New Hampshire artisans ($16-$40)

- Distinctive handbound journals with innovative stitching by local artisan Dennis Yuen ($15-$48)

- Sweet porcelain juice cups in vibrant dual-colors or polka dots by Mary Anne Davis ($16 each)

- Gorgeous flameworked handblown glass ornaments by Matt Eskuche ($23-$45)

- Fabulous earrings, from elegant to edgy, by jewelers from Seattle to New Hampshire (from $34)

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Consumer Culture: Dollar Voting

The holiday shopping season is in full swing, and this year, in the spirit of conscientious living, we at Greenjeans ask you to consider the notion of the “dollar vote” as you shop for the people on your gift list.

The dollar vote is a concept economists use to describe how, in a market economy, consumers effectively vote for products—as well as how those products are produced, transported, marketed and sold—by spending their dollars. Through our “consumer sovereignty” we have the power to make our preferences known, one dollar vote at a time.

Founded on the social and aesthetic ideals upheld by the Shakers and the Arts and Crafts movement, Greenjeans promotes the values of craftsmanship, sustainability, and conscientious living by providing a source to find thoughtful, beautifully made objects for the home and children. From classic wooden toys and inviting pottery to fine porcelain dinnerware and handsome furniture, Greenjeans offers an exclusive selection of items made one-at-a-time by independent artisans, bringing traditions of fine handcraft to the urban market.

With an eye toward slowing the corporate-driven consumption cycle that exploits the global labor force and plants “big-box” stores in old cornfields, Greenjeans facilitates connections between people who care to own quality, handmade things and the skilled artisans who make them.

A dollar spent at Greenjeans is a vote for integrity, sustainability, and small-scale production. We invite you to shop with us this holiday season, and we wish you peace and joy.

A portion of proceeds from our holiday season sales will be donated to local charities.

(Thanks to Brooklyn's develop-don't-destroy blog No Land Grab for picking up this article!)

(Photo: Ben Rushton)

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Studio Visit: Toymaker Frank Ridley

Originally uploaded by amyshaw.
“If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music which he hears, however measured or far away.”
- Thoreau (from Different Drummer Workshop’s brochure)

Back in November, Jae and I made a visit to Solon, Maine, where Frank Ridley lives and makes traditional wooden toys from local pine and maple. (Solon is in the middle of the state, north of Skowhegan, about 8 hours north of NYC.)

Click here for the virtual studio tour!

Ridely is a spirited, good-natured man who builds solid, gentle toys that are free from toxic finishes and made with mindfulness toward young children’s development and curiosities. “We believe,” he writes in his brochure, “that toys intended for children should be non-violent and simple in design, leaving the child to use his or her own imagination (instead of a battery) to fill in whatever details are needed at the time of play.” When we tell customers about Ridley, we often say he even looks like Santa’s brother. You can see why…

Ridley has been making wooden toys since 1973 when he and his family moved away from the “big city industrial rat race” to the Maine woods and set up Different Drummer Workshop. They cleared a yard, built a passive-solar log house from what they cut down, and built a barn that serves as the workshop. For a while he worked with his wife and children, but today it’s just him.

Evidence of Ridley's early life as an engineer is everywhere. The way he packs a box of toys is remarkable—everything fits together like a puzzle into a perfect, compact package. His house, a showcase of forward-thinking, ecologically-minded design, is heated in part by the carefully calculated therodynaic synergy between the long bank of south-facing windows and the massive Trombe wall that runs the entire height and length of the house.

Frank doesn’t seem to miss city living at all. Even after 32 years of toymaking, his work still gives him joy and he is passionate when talking about what he does. (He is also a huge fan of the Red Sox and the New England Patriots, but he and Jae, a long-time Yankees fan, still get along just fine.)

You can see him here in these pictures (click here for slideshow) packing our order, explaining the rules of traditional games, and fixing a busted helicopter that we brought up to him for repair on behalf of a customer. We are lucky to have found Frank Ridley. And we feel grateful to be able to offer our customers at Greenjeans his wonderful toys.

Click here to see what we have available through our Online Store. There are many more of Frank's toys and games to be found in our Brooklyn shop!

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Consumer Culture: "Mass-Produced Individuality"

In today’s New York Times Magazine there appeared a short piece titled “Mass-Produced Individuality” that caught my eye. Written by Rob Walker, the piece talks about how companies are offering consumers options for customizing their mass-produced purchases in an attempt to help consumers feel that they are being served as individuals.

We’ve all heard in recent years (or has it been only months?) about products like the Toyota Scion, the bread-box shaped car that you can “customize” by choosing from lists of features and details from the color of your shift knob to whether or not you have a center arm rest. I’ve also noticed people talking about customizable sneakers (is it Adidas? Nike? Puma? All of the above?) where you get to pick the colors and laces and such. And then there’s Build-A-Bear Workshop at your local mall where kids are taught to expect to be catered to by the mass market, er, I mean where they get to “create” their own new friend.

These offerings seem to be a response by producers to help consumers feel like they have more control over their purchases, and maybe even that they’re getting something of higher quality since it’s “custom.” But I feel that the issue is swaying more toward the realm of overchoice than better choice. (This also smacks of a sprawling of “the blob,” "me-world," and our culture of options – see Tom de Zengotita’s writing, especially his outstanding recent book “Mediated.” Or check out this interview with him in The Brooklyn Rail from May '05.)

But my overwhelming response to the Times’ piece is that if the question is “what can save us” from the homogeneity of mass-production, why is the answer more technology and mass-production? Why not call for a return to small-scale production? I don’t necessarily mean making our own clothes and furniture like Walker mentions at the beginning of the piece, but rather buying quality products from artisans that you don’t need to replace during your lifetime. That way you get to own something that is not only truly unique, but also that is built to last. Because the mass-market relies on things breaking to sustain it—planned obsolescence is still a fact of design, maybe not in all cases, but who has a cell phone that’s lasted more than 2 years? Granted we’re having a hard time finding hand-made cell phones, and that’s not really my point. But I do think that if we want to find a real solution to the problem of preserving consumer individuality perhaps we should consider small-scale, artisan-based production.

From the article:

“Many people used to make their own clothes and build their own furniture. The Industrial Revolution, with technological innovations like power looms and power lathes, and now today's far-flung supply chains, made it easier and more practical to buy ready-made apparel and housewares. Lately, however, mass production has been cast not so much as the best thing that ever happened to consumers but as an annoyance, even a problem. It stands in the way of our individuality. What can save us?

“Of course the answer must be more technological innovation, and in the past several years there have been many attempts to tweak mass production (of everything from sneakers to M&M's) in ways that will deliver "mass customization" and "the one-to-one future," in which every single consumer gets unique treatment. …

“The new version of mass customization does not seek to turn back the clock to [the follow-a-pattern and do-it-yourself] era: do-it-yourself publications like Make and ReadyMade have their constituencies, but most people who want, say, "unique" footwear do not actually want to learn how to manufacture a shoe. They want to pick out a color scheme on a sneaker made by a company with vast and sophisticated manufacturing capabilities. Alienation from the means of production is a selling point."

Saturday, December 10, 2005

Acronym of the Day: LOHAS

A friend of Greenjeans recently introduced me to the phrase LOHAS, which stands for Lifestyle of Health and Sustainability. I'd never heard of the phrase before, but it seems right up our alley here at Greenjeans, where craftsmanship, sustainability, and conscientious living are our founding and guiding principles.

Our friend wrote that LOHAS is a movement that started in the U.S. but is more popular in her native Japan. She said that in the U.S. the equivalent would be things associated with organics, green, fair trade, sustainability, and so on. But LOHAS sounds like a more coherent movement idea to me. I wanted to know more.

So, as we 21st century folk do when confronted with a question, I googled. Indeed all but one of the top sites that came up was in Japanese. But the first hit was in English: From their website I found a definition and lots of information about conferences, business networks, and other resources to help those of us interested in this movement to connect.

From their website:

"Lifestyles of Health and Sustainability (LOHAS) describes a $228.9 billion U.S. marketplace for goods and services focused on health, the environment, social justice, personal development and sustainable living. The consumers attracted to this market have been collectively referred to as Cultural Creatives and represent a sizable group in this country. Approximately 30 percent of the adults in the U.S., or 63 million people, are currently considered LOHAS Consumers."

I started a blog a few months ago called Conscientious Living ( where I planned to start exploring the possible connections between sustainability and commerce. But I am beginning to see that this Greenjeans Adventure blog is really where to engage such questions, since it is exactly these sorts of ideas that inspired Greenjeans and that form the basis of our work here.

So, here's to living mindfully of health and sustainability. Here's to LOHAS. Here's to Conscientious Living. And thank you, Yoshiko, for introducing me to such a helpful acronym!

And check out Yoshiko’s wonderful blog about cooking and living in Brooklyn with beautiful photos of meals she has prepared or eaten in restaurants: And a tip: if you use the “translate this page” function in Google you will get to understand something of what she’s writing (unless you can already read Japanese) that double as really wonderful, funny found-poems. But that’s for a blog entry on another day...

Friday, December 09, 2005

Tiger Maple Picnic Basket

Originally uploaded by amyshaw.
Amidst all this snow and wind today, let us think for a moment about summertime picnics!

Ray Lagasse of Lempster, NH, makes the kind of generous, beautiful, useful baskets that will inspire you to prepare lovely light suppers to carry to the park, the way a nice big copper pot can encourage hearty batches of soup.

His trademark is the special hardwood he uses for the interior bottoms and, as in this case, the tops of his sturdy baskets. They are just exactly what a good basket should look like, feel like, and serve like, but they have the added
value of a peculiarly gentle beauty. Something about them reminds me of the grace of spotting a deer in the forest.

This particular double-hinged picnic basket (click here for slideshow) that we just brought in yesterday has the most handsome piece of dark tiger maple we've ever seen. It is rich and ribbony and has more character than you'd think a piece of wood could. The photos in the slideshow don't do it justice, but they hint at the idea.

The interior bottom of the basket is nothing to sneeze at, either. It's made of 4 panes of bird's eye maple and some lighter tiger maple fastened with brass tacks. It vividly speaks to the care and attention Ray gives to his work that the bottom should be so fine.

All of the wood is polished smooth with non-toxic, all-natural Block Oil. And the piece is signed and dated on one of the protective bottom runners.

We have a number of other baskets in different sizes and shapes as well, including a deep wool-gathering basket, a jaunty round serving tray, and an elegant longer piece called the double-pie basket (because it's made to fit two pies side by side -- very holiday handy!) We also have a wine basket made with a long harness leather-covered handle designed to carry 2 bottles.

Come check them out at Greenjeans!

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Stockings & Ornaments

Stockings & Ornaments
Originally uploaded by amyshaw.
"...The stockings were hung on the pegboard with care..."

Bring these one-of-a-kind handmade stockings and ornaments into your home and create new holiday heirlooms that you and your children—and their children!—will treasure.

The stockings are the coolest take on this Christmas tradition we've ever seen. They're made from appealing fabrics like silk shantung and soft cotton brocade. The colors are festive without screaming "Christmas" -- such a relief! Park Slope artisan Jennifer Lawrence (Rehash) makes them, and as with her pillows and curtains we have at Greenjeans, they're made from reclaimed fabrics.

We have two lines of ornaments, one in glass and one in turned wood.

The gorgeous flameworked blown glass ornaments are by Matt Eskuche (Ess Vetro) of Milwaukee. Matt’s ornaments are every bit as mysterious and enchanting as the perfume bottles and tiny lampworked dogs and nymphs that Greenjeans shoppers love.

The elegant turned wood ornaments are fashioned from exotic woods like zebrawood, tulipwood, and quilted maple. They are by Tom Dubois of Eliot, Maine, the artisan who also makes the much-admired ring boxes and yew wood vessels we have at the shop.

Embrace the warmth and soul of one-of-a-kind handmade holiday decorations – and remember: you won’t find them anywhere else in NYC!

Saturday, December 03, 2005

New Artisan: Dan Dustin, Spoonmaker

Originally uploaded by amyshaw.
Unless you've seen Dan Dustin's spoons before, you've never seen anything like Dan Dustin's spoons (click here for slideshow). Holding one is like touching the warm heart of a tree. They are soft and supple and alive, and they will change your mind about spoons being at all banal. We are honored to have his spoons as the newest addition to Greenjeans.

Each wooden spoon that Dan Dustin makes begins with a walk in the New Hampshire woods. He says that the trees make the spoons and he just discovers them. But his method is a little more involved than that.

The best spoons reflect the natural curves formed in branches and trunks by a tree reaching for light. Dustin, who lives in Contoocook, NH, makes spoons from mountain laurel (known as spoonwood), lilac, and blueberry bushes, and apple and peach trees. (All of the spoons at Greenjeans are made of either laurel or lilac.) He finds an appropriate branch preferably from wood left behind from timber harvests, but sometimes from a standing tree. Then he splits, hews, and shaves the wood into the form of a spoon, allowing the grain and the feel of the wood to guide his cuts.

The spoon is then heated under beeswax and walnut oil to replace the sap, filling and hardening the wood. This makes the spoon very strong yet flexible, with a hard surface but yielding to the hand. Finally the spoon is rubbed with orange and walnut oils that he buys at his local health food store and mixes himself.

Dustin, whose work has been exhibited at New York's Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum, says that historically utensils made from pewter and silver have been more valued than wooden ones. But he believes he is helping change that. People value his spoons. "They not only collect them," he says, "but they travel with their favorite."

His work has inspired the novel Spoonwood by Ernest Herbert, about a man who retreats into the woods with his infant son and makes a living by carving wooden spoons with primitive tools. He is also the subject of a forthcoming graphic novel.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Felted Wool Mobile Escapes the Nursery

Felted Wool Mobile
Originally uploaded by amyshaw.
Greenjeans is full of unusual things, but one of the objects that most inspires wonder is this felted wool mobile by Ohio-based artists Chris Rom and Geoff Buddie. Visitors sometimes get caught up gazing at its red cones, gold balls, and white clouds twisting and drifting around one another from delicate filaments tied to hand-tooled metal bars. This one has a sister toward the back of the shop of greens, grays, and light blue. We think they would look smashing over the dining room table or at the top of the stairs. No need to relegate mobiles to the nursery!

Rom and Buddie are a husband-and-wife team working together to create sculptures reflecting their shared aesthetic for what I would call the "surreal-yet-friendly." They met in high school art class in Cleveland, went on together to art school, and then set out to make a career as potters. However they soon tired of the repetition of pottery production and turned to dying, felting, and sculpting wool. Their sculptures do still sometimes include clay elements, as in “Smokestack” and the “Ballerinas” we have at the shop (images forthcoming). I don’t know of any other artists working in a combination of clay and wool, but it is a surprisingly appealing pairing.

Their uniqueness and skill aren’t going unnoticed. This past spring the couple was honored with the Artists' Choice Award from a field of 175 entrants at the CraftBoston show. And they have shown in many juried shows including the prestigious American Craft Council fair. As they gain more recognition and continue to develop their wonderful work, we hope to help spark a keen following for the singularly playful and mysterious sculpture by the couple we fondly refer to in-house as “BuddieRom.”

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

New Artisan: Dennis Yuen

Originally uploaded by amyshaw.
Dennis Yuen, of Park Slope, Brooklyn, makes handsome and thoughtful blank books that plead to be written in (click here for slideshow). They are thick tomes that open flat (a vital detail for us writers!) filled with supple paper that is inviting to pen or pencil. He uses luscious papers and fabrics for his covers and endpapers. His binding designs, with their tight, exposed stitching or simply tied ribbons, are fascinating. And the overall proportions of the books are pleasing and functional. These are books to be enjoyed as objects as well as functioning journals -- the perfect marriage of art and life!

Dennis found out about us through a friend who had stopped by the shop one evening to check us out. He thought we might like to see Dennis' books, and since we're always interested in seeing what people are making, we invited him to come by with some samples. That weekend Dennis came by and showed us 7 or 8 books that he has made. I confess I was instantly in love. We talked about the books and the shop and Dennis looked around and thought he would like for his books to be in Greenjeans. So it was a match! It is such a pleasure to bring in a new artisan, especially when there is such a sense of discovery involved for both of us.

Though they aren’t available quite yet, Dennis is working on a new group of books for the shop that will be ready at some point in the next few weeks or so. No definite dates yet, but I will update the blog and post pictures to let folks know when they're available. And as with other work at Greenjeans, Dennis’ books will be exclusive to us in New York.

Meanwhile, you can check out Dennis' great blog,

I also want to thank Dennis and Morry for encouraging us to make more regular blog postings. Today is the first of what I hope will be many years worth of daily-or-so postings about new artisans, new objects, and new ideas at Greenjeans. Hopefully writing about Dennis' work will set things off on a good foot! Stay tuned!

And welcome Dennis to the Greenjeans Adventure!

Sunday, October 23, 2005

Postcard from Greenjeans - October 2005

Originally uploaded by amyshaw.
I took some pictures today of the shop and some of the new items we've brought in since my earlier blog entries. Notable among these are the woven baskets by Ray Lagasse, the gorgeous Shaker-style candle stand by Brian Braskie, and the elegant satiny end table by Geoffrey Ouellette, all NH artisans.

Also, in the last picture you will see something new hanging outside the shop -- our sign is finally up! Jae painted it and we had it installed on Tuesday. I've been enjoying watching it swing in the breeze, as well as seeing passers-by notice it and stop to look in the window.

Enjoy the photos, and here's to Autumn in NY!


Saturday, October 22, 2005

Eventful Few Months - update

Originally uploaded by amyshaw.
Greetings from Greenjeans!

It has been an eventful couple of months at Greenjeans, and we wanted to share the news with all of you.

The biggest news is that Jae and I got married! Our wedding was October 8 in Portsmouth, NH, and though it rained it was beautiful and wonderful. And we are absurdly happy! (I couldn't resist putting up this picture of us up coming back down the aisle…)

Meanwhile, Greenjeans has received some noteworthy publicity recently. We had a full interview and 3 pictures published in Crafts Business magazine (Sept/Oct 2005, p. 44-45); a very nice mention with a picture in the "Craftworld" section of the ACC's American Craft magazine (Oct/Nov 2005, p. 10); and a "News from the Gallery Front" write-up in NICHE magazine (Summer 2005, p. 36). Look for pieces by Greenjeans artisans Tom Dubois and Mary Anne Davis to appear in Domino and Natural Home & Garden magazines in the coming months, too!

We are now gearing up for the holiday shopping season and continue to work on the website. By the end of the year we plan to have e-commerce up and running so shoppers will be able to buy from Greenjeans online. And we’re looking forward to setting up our online wedding registry so couples who crave beautiful handmade table settings and housewares will have to look no further!

So check back soon – we will be posting a slideshow of wonderful new items at Greenjeans including woven baskets by New Hampshire artisan Ray Lagasse, stainless steel handbags by Wendy Stevens of Pennsylvania, and some new toys – including a wonderful wooden rocking horse – by Maine toymaker Frank Ridley.

Thanks for reading, and happy Fall!


- Amy

Saturday, July 23, 2005

Greenjeans Grand Opening

Last night we celebrated the Grand Opening of Greenjeans! (click here for slideshow). We’ve been open since March 9, but we’d never really had a big kick-off. It was a good excuse to have a party, as well as to get our business cards, promotional cards, and bag/box stickers done (finally!).

After a day of final preparations, guests began to arrive, and by 7:30 we estimated there were about 50 people, many of them inside the shop. (We had no idea our little 300 sq ft shop could fit that many people!)

My sister, Dag Shaw (who also makes the wholesome bath salts and facial scrub we sell), and her friend Adam Tagliamonte played and sang great bluegrass music setting a mellow and friendly tone.

Craftspeople attending included local textile artisan Jennifer Lawrence (here at right; she makes fabulous pillows from reclaimed fabrics. She also made the amazing curtain in the shop). Tom Dubois (here at center, who makes the extraordinary turned wood pieces) came all the way down from Eliot, Maine, with his wife, Anne, and son, Rob. At the left here is Dick Shaw, who made the long shelves on the walls of the shop and will be making more pieces both for display and for sale in the future. He's also my Dad.

There were many other friends and family in attendance as well as some regular customers. Mark and Samantha Delman-Caserta, the owners of 3R Living, a wonderful local shop that sells earth-friendly products, came too, which was very meaningful for us because their shop inspired us early on when we were beginning to think about opening a shop of our own. And a few folks who were just passing by came in to have some wine and listen to the music, which was nice.

Guests snacked on French macaroons from Almondine, a divine French bakery in DUMBO, and bruschetta with olive tapenade, proscuttio, and good cheese from Tost, the wine and panini bar down the street. To drink there was wine, organic lemon and wild berry nectars, sparkling water, and more wine...

Toward the end of the evening we started making sales, and by the end of the night, to our great surprise, we’d set a one-day record!

After the party, about 20 of us went a few doors down to Java, a family-run Indonesian restaurant that has been here for 13 years. They set up tables end to end creating a banquet table that ran the entire length of the restaurant and we feasted on delicious dishes of vegetables and chicken and tofu all in wonderfully tasty sauces. It was a long dinner, but we had brought several large bottles of wine, and in the midst of such excellent company the time like a generous gift.

It was a very special evening. We thank everyone for coming and supporting us and our shop, and we hope to have many more festive soirees in the future!

Friday, July 22, 2005

Zentner's Kiln

John Peering into Kiln
Originally uploaded by amyshaw.
This past Monday evening we paid a visit to potter John Zentner at his studio in Northwood, NH. Lucky for us, he had just finished a firing, and the pieces were still in the kiln cooling, too hot to remove. It was a treat to get to peer inside at the glistening hot pots. This is a picture of John checking on how things went. He thinks it was a very successful firing!

Inside Zentner's Kiln
Originally uploaded by amyshaw.
Inside the kiln. It had been cooling for a whole day, but the bricks still strongly radiated heat. You could hear quiet little crackling inside as the glazes and bricks cooled, like ice in a warm glass. It would be another day or so until the pieces would be ready to remove.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

"Smokestack" by Buddie/Rom

"Smokestack" by Buddie/Rom
Originally uploaded by amyshaw.
One of the playfully surreal felted wool sculptures by Geoff Buddie and Chris Rom. They make marvelous mobiles too!

Porcelain table settings by Mary Anne Davis

Two sets of porcelain tableware (4-piece on left, 6-piece on right). Available in 12 vibrant colors.

Blown glass vase by Matt Eskuche

Blown glass vase by Matt Eskuche
Originally uploaded by amyshaw.
Extraordinary flameworked glass by this very talented young glass blower. Perfume bottles, cordial glasses, miniatures, and tumblers also available.

Pottery at Greenjeans

Pottery at Greenjeans
Originally uploaded by amyshaw.
Pieces by Kit Cornell, Jeff Brown, John Zentner, and Mary Anne Davis. Come in to see much more!

Wooden toys that children love

Wooden toys that children love
Originally uploaded by amyshaw.
Frank Ridley of Solon, Maine, makes this great Tin Lizzie and Sailboat (that floats!), as well as dozens of other toys, out of local pine. The real deal.

More wooden toys

More wooden toys
Originally uploaded by amyshaw.
The Red Baron airplane, charming waddle duck, and tug boat bath toy by Frank Ridley.

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

New! Dichroic Glass Jewelry by Susan Pratt-Smith

New in today, these are gorgeous pendants and earrings by Susan Pratt-Smith, an accomplished glass artist. In her lovely studio in rural Northwood, NH, Susan works with dichroic glass to make these powerful, elegant pieces that change color depending on the light and angle. They bring a vibrant energy into the shop, and few can resist their soulful charge.

Sunday, June 12, 2005

The Curtain is Up!

The Curtain is Up!
Originally uploaded by amyshaw.
Last Sunday we finally installed a major piece in the shop -- the curtain dividing the shop area from the storage space. The curtain was made by local artisan Jennifer Lawrence (who also makes the fabulous pillows we carry) out of old blue men's shirts. (The tabs at the top are the collars!) It is soft and cool and greatly reduces the visual noise in the shop. We love it!

Handbound Books

Handbound Books
Originally uploaded by amyshaw.
Handbound journals and photo albums in scrumptious printed papers by local artisan Beth Riemer.

Cordial Glasses

Cordial Glasses
Originally uploaded by amyshaw.
Delicate cordial glasses banded in soft mustard yellow, and a glass apple (that is actually red), by Matt Eskuche.

Perfume Bottles & Miniatures

Perfume Bottles & Miniatures
Originally uploaded by amyshaw.
Perfume bottles that look like a fairytale flower, and miniature vessels, all flameworked glass by Matt Eskuche.

Horizong Glasses, Nymphs & Drawing

New flameworked glass tumblers by Matt Eskuche, who also made the glass figures ("nymphs"). The drawing is by Tim Johnson.

Friday, May 27, 2005

Turned Wood

Tom Dubois Turned Wood 1
Originally uploaded by amyshaw.
By Tom Dubois (Eliot, ME)

Left to right:

- Yew cylindrical cup
- Yew tapered cup
- Black walnut dish (varnished and foodsafe)
- Bloodwood marriage box with hand-turned aluminum finial
- Bocote stem vase
- Jane Kaufmann Iris wall plate
- Satinwood dish with acrylic lid (perfect for M&Ms!)
- Walnut weed vase

More Turned Wood

Tom Dubois Turned Wood 2
Originally uploaded by amyshaw.
By Tom Dubois (Eliot, ME)

Left to right:
- Walnut weed vase
- Bloodwood ring box with amazing hand-turned screw-on lid
- Bloodwood ring box with hand-turned aluminum finial
- Jane Kaufmann “Carpenter” finger puppet
- Lignum vitae urn shaped vessel (lignum vitae is the hardest and densest wood on earth)
- Yew weed vase with bark
- Yew canister
- Yew candleholder with bark

Sunday, May 01, 2005

Shaker Chairs & Woven Blankets

Originally uploaded by amyshaw.
Today we installed the Shaker peg board near the window. Shakers used peg boards like these to store extra chairs up out of the way, (often upside down like we've done here). The chairs are by Brian Braskie of North Woods Chair Shop (Canterbury, NH). The blankets, woven of mohair, silk, and wool, are by Patricia Burling of Willow Weave (Monroe, CT).

Monday, April 18, 2005

Greenjeans Front Wall

Greenjeans, April 16, 2005
Originally uploaded by amyshaw.
> Sundae sculptures & Hand wall sculpture - Jane Kaufmann (Durham, NH)
> Framed Polaroid photographs - Tim Johnson (Worcester, MA)
> Glazed bowls - Kit Cornell (Exeter, NH)
> Sweatered vessels from the "Women of Power" series [that's Brooke Aster in purple and Claire McCardell in peach] - Mary Anne Davis (Chatham, NY)
> Crockery - Jeff Brown and John Zentner (Northwood, NH)
> "Little Animals" - Corrie Beth Hogg (Brooklyn, NY)
> Jars of organic bath salts and facial scrub - Dag Shaw of Greenface (Northwood, NH)
> Buttons made of thread too short to save (in celadon bowl) - Rebecca Davis of Surface Features (Brooklyn, NY)
> Child's Shaker rocking chair - Brian Braskie's North Woods Chair Shop (Canturbury, NH)
> "Ballerina" wall sculptures of felted wool and clay [on the green wall] - Chris Rom & Geoff Buddie (Swanton, OH)

Tiger Chair and Wooly Landscape

Tiger Chair and Wooly Landscape
Originally uploaded by amyshaw.
> Child's Shaker rocking chair of tiger maple - Brian Braskie's North Woods Chair Shop (Canterbury, NH)
> Sculpture of dyed, felted wool - Chris Rom & Geoff Buddie (Swanton, OH)

Greenjeans North Wall

Greenjeans South Wall
Originally uploaded by amyshaw.
Pottery and turned wood items displayed on beveled shelves built by Dick Shaw (Northwood, NH). Wooden pedestals are actually the excess ends of huge pine timbers Dick has been using to build a timberframe house in Concord, NH.

Objects in Flight

Objects in Flight
Originally uploaded by amyshaw.
> Hanging mobile of dyed, felted wool - Chris Rom & Geoff Buddie (Swanton, OH)
> Framed pen & ink drawing - Tim Johnson (Worcester, MA)
> Wall sculpture "Record Rain" - Jane Kaufmann (Durham, NH)
> Brightly-glazed porcelain tableware - Mary Anne Davis of Davistudio (Chatham, MA)
> Pillow made of reclaimed fabric - Jennifer Lawrence (Brooklyn, NY)

Sunday, April 17, 2005

Greenjeans South Wall

Greenjeans South Wall
Originally uploaded by amyshaw.
Jane Kaufmann's lily orb sits on the corner of table next to Jae. Our temporary French door table holds new jewlery, photographs and drawings by Tim Johnson (Worcester, MA), and shelters Frank Ridley's toys. One the wall hangs a sculpture of felted wool and clay by husband-and-wife team Geoff Buddie & Chris Rom (Swanton, OH).

Toys from Different Drummer Workshop

Frank Ridley has been making toys from local pine in the northern woods of Solon, Maine, for 30 years. All toys are sold unfinished, posing no health risks to tots who might like to chew. They may also be painted.

Greenjeans - Two Chairs

Greenjeans - Two Chairs
Originally uploaded by amyshaw.
Left to right:

> Toy highchair - Frank Ridley's Different Drummer Workshop (Solon, ME)
> Little Animal (in highchair) - Corrie Beth Hogg (Brooklyn, NY)
> Shaker rocking chair - Brian Braskie (Canterbury, NH)
> Wooden helicopter toy - Frank Ridley
> Orange silk shantung pillow - Jennifer Lawrence (Brooklyn, NY)

Shelves that Dad Made

Long Shelves
Originally uploaded by amyshaw.
These are the long shelves Dad (Dick Shaw) made for the shop. These two are 10' long, and then there's a pair of 4' long shelves nearer to the door. They feature a lip at the edge, tiny peg holes 3" from the back so you can stand up pictures or platters at any point along the entire length, and a deep bevel on the underside, almost like an airplane wing, giving them a sense of lightness.

Greenjeans Front Window

Greenjeans Front Window
Originally uploaded by amyshaw.
Back to front:

> Pillow - Jennifer Lawrence (Brooklyn, NY)
> Pod and seed vases - Mary Anne Davis (Chatham, NY)
> Wooden toys - Frank Ridley (Solon, ME)
> Green mug & bowl - John Zentner (Northwood, NH)
> Daffodil orb & little people on the windowsill - Jane Kaufmann (Durham, NH)
> Wooden bud vase - Tom Dubois (Eliot, ME)
> Polka dot and purple mugs - Mary Anne Davis
> Lotus tea bowl - Kit Cornell (Exeter, NH)
> Square bowl - Jeff Brown (Northwood, NH)

Saturday, January 01, 2005

Short Essays

Consumer Culture: Peeking Underneath Campaign Tee-Shirts (July 2008)

On Craft and Security

1970s Nostalgia & the New Craft Movement

An Open Letter to the Craft World

Toward a Phenomenology of the Handmade

History of Craft: An Initial Overview

History of Craft: Toward a New Craft World Order

Consumer Culture: Dollar Voting

Consumer Culture: What Does “Green” Mean?

Consumer Culture: Branding Peace

Consumer Culture: “Mass-produced Individuality”

Consumer Culture: Truth and Inconsequence

Virtual Studio Visits

(Most recent at top)

Susan Pratt Smith & Gary Haven Smith, Glass Artist & Stone Sculptor (Northwood, NH)

Tom Dubois, Wood Turner (Eliot, ME)

Matthew Eskuche, Glass Artist (Pittsburgh, PA)

Kit Cornell, Potter (Exeter, NH)

Brian Braskie, Chair Maker (Canterbury, NH)

Dan Dustin, Spoon Maker (Contoocook, NH)

Bill Summers, Wood/Metal (Concord, NH)

Jane Kaufmann, Sculptor (Durham, NH)

Janice Ho, Metalsmith Jeweler (Madison, WI/Philadelphia, PA)

Erica Schlueter, Metalsmith Jeweler (Verona, WI)

Ray Lagasse, Basket Maker (Lempster, NH)

Frank Ridley, Toy Maker (Solon, ME)

John Zentner, Potter (Northwood, NH)

Greenjeans Reviews

"Fashioning Felt" at Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum (Jul. '09)

"Recombination: Nava Lubelski" at LMAKprojects (Jan. '09)

"The Essential Art of African Textiles" at the Met (Dec. '08)

"Louise Bourgeois" at the Guggenheim Museum (Sept. '08)

"Out of this World: Shaker Design Past, Present, and Future" at the Bard Graduate Center (May '08)

BKLYN Designs (May 9-11, '08)

"Martin Puryear" at the Museum of Modern Art (Jan. '07)

"Pricked: Extreme Embroidery" at the Museum of Arts & Design
(Nov. '07)

American Craft Magazine, first re-launch issue
(Oct. '07)

"Viva Vetro!" at the Carnegie Museum of Art
(Sept. '07)

"One of a Kind: The Studio Craft Movement" at the Metropolitan Museum of Art
(July '07)

Renegade Craft Fair 2007 in Brooklyn, NY
(June '07)

SOFA New York 2007
(June '07)

HauteGREEN sustainable design show in New York
(May '07)

"Design for the Other 90% at the Cooper Hewitt National Design Museum
(May '07)

William Kentridge's "The Magic Flute" at the Brooklyn Academy of Music
(May '07)

"Radical Lace and Subversive Knitting" at the Museum of Arts & Design
(Jan. '07)

"The First Emperor" at the Metropolitan Opera
(Jan. '07)

Renegade Craft Fair 2006 in Brooklyn, NY
(June '06)