Wednesday, January 31, 2007

New Artisans Coming! (report from NYIGF)

The New York International Gift Fair is in town this week, and retail store buyers from all over the country are there to see what the 2700 vendors are offering this year. It's a totally overwhelming affair, with acres upon acres of home decor, jewelry, toys, garden furniture, and about everything else you can imagine. And it'll all be on the shelves of the department stores and boutiques near you in the months to come.

It's very expensive for vendors to do this fair (as it is to do any big fair, really), but I must say that the fair organizers do a great job by their vendors with really good promotion: targeted emails to registered attendees going out twice a week during the month before the fair, lots of press releases and press coverage, shuttle buses to the area hotels and subways, and strong publicity materials and signage. Craft fair organizers who haven't been to this fair might consider registering for the summer fair and come on reconnaissance! There are some great tactics in action to draw buyers.

The reason we went this year is because the fair includes a sizable "Handmade" section, and we always find a few things we love to add to Greenjeans.
This year we ordered with three new-to-us artisans, or should I say 2 artisans and 1 artisan collective. In the coming months come in to Greenjeans to find...

Using 100% recycled cashmere, e'ko logic (a studio of six led by Kathleen Tesnakis and her husband, Charlie, located in Troy, NY) make wonderful garments including these Bunny Baby hats. We'll also have recycled cashmere baby booties, as well as hats and booties made from recycled pique cotton for when the weather's warmer.
I literally swooned when I saw Ruth Tomlinson's jewelry (shown at the top right, too). Made using tiny rolled bits of colored, unglazed porcelain that she shapes with the tools used by her ceramicist grandmother, Ruth creates transcendently lovely works based in sterling silver (sometimes shiny, sometimes oxidized) and in gold. I think of it as post-modern romantic. These white earrings make me wish I could plan my wedding look again! And the black ones at the top are to me just the height of chic. Based in London, Ruth is our third international artist!
Also by Ruth, this gorgeous ring is made from a continuous undulating band of flattened sterling silver. She makes this in gold, as well. We're getting more and more requests for wedding bands and I think this ring would be an amazing choice.

Growing up in New Hampshire, we always had flat brooms and cobweb sweeps exactly like the ones shown here. My Mom would buy them from Calef's County Store in Barrington, or from the Canterbury Shaker Village. (The Shakers invented the flat broom, after all.)

These days, it's hard to find real natural-bristle brooms, which always do the job better than their synthetic counterparts. The students at Berea College in Kentucky study traditional crafts and, in lieu of paying tuition, work in the school's workshops producing wares like these.

We'll be offering a few different styles of brooms, this great umbrella stand, woven napkins and placemats in taupe and yellow, and a few other items from the student workshops at Berea. We're always focused on helping artisans make a living at their craft, and it's so excited to be able to support the continuation of craft traditions this way, by supporting students!

Photo credits: e'ko logic, Ruth Tomlinson, and Berea College Crafts

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Greenjeans Review: Radical Lace & Subversive Knitting

Tonight I accompanied my friend Lily to the very well-attended opening for Radical Lace and Subversive Knitting at the Museum of Arts and Design. The show is well worth seeing, and the museum, which is located across the street from MoMA in midtown Manhattan, does a great job exhibiting craft, no matter what it calls itself.

With dozens of works that experiment with materials, scale, and methods to push the edges of the categories "lace" and "knitting," the exhibition is full of juicy treats. Here are some highlights:

Tethered knit dress by Liz Collins

Artist Liz Collins in a more wearable frock of her design. Phase 4 of Liz's ongoing, collaborative performance piece "Knitting Nation" will take place at MAD on Saturday, June 16 from 12-5pm. Not to be missed!

Sabrina Gschwandtner (of KnitKnit) set up this public knitting circle dedicated to wartime knitting. Anyone who can knit may sign up to come work on any of 4 different patterns, and when they do, admission is free.

A small detail of Edward Mayer's large installation "Drawing In" made from bits of furniture, wire plant racks, sticks of wood, and other found materials painted all white and "knitted" or "pieced" together in a three-dimensional web. It reminds me of a Louise Nevelson sculpture breaking out of the planar mold.

Freddie Robins' creepy/funny knitted body suit.

Netherlandish artist Henk Wolvers drips threads of liquid porcelain from a brush directly onto the kiln plate and fires them into these lovely, poetic sculptures. 180 of them line an entire wall of the exhibition. The work reminds me of the gorgeous sculptures and installations of Jeanne Quinn; I'd love to see them exhibited together...

A detail of Barbara Zucker's 12-foot long installation comprised of strips of rubber cut into "lace" patterned after the wrinkles on a friend's face.

The considerable crowd.

My friend Lily Kane and a friend of hers from Chicago sporting a subversively knitted hat.

View up into Janet Echelman's sculpture that I'd describe as a psychedelic basketball net (also pictured at the top). It runs 3+ stories high.

A still from the stop-motion animated film "Errant Behaviors" by Anne Wilson starring needles and black thread. (Click link for video excerpt.)

After MAD, we went to Tribecca to R 20th Century (a great mid-century design/decorative arts gallery) to see the Jeff Zimmerman show. Zimmerman is a Brooklyn-based designer-maker who works in glass. I loved his big glass terrariums, his white and green sculpture of interconnected biomorphic vessels that reminded me of the Barbapappa's houses, and the elongated glowing white teardrops that hung from the ground-floor ceiling to the basement floor.

It is interesting to think of these two exhibitions in terms of craft, design, and art. Each exhibition features ambitious works made with considerable technical proficiency in their various media. Zimmerman's work seems to be mostly about the aesthetic appeal of the final result while his process and material seem to be deliberately hidden and mysterious. The pieces don't really seem to be glass, and even knowing that they are doesn't help one to comprehend how he makes the remarkable forms he does. They work like magic tricks.

On the other hand, the lace-makers and knitters exhibited at MAD generally seem most concerned with materials and processes. The final works are like a record of the actions taken to manipulate them. The beauty is in the result of a fully-disclosed process, as opposed to a pre-determined final form. (Form-follows-process?) Generally speaking. So it seems to me tonight as I reflect.

Upon leaving MAD and before heading downtown, we stood for a few moments to watch the huge Doug Aitken projection "Sleepwalkers" run on the wall of MoMA across the street. Lovely to watch, something like star-gazing.

Photos: All by Amy Shaw, except still from film by Anne Wilson sourced here.

Video Tour of Bushwick, Brooklyn

Since Greenjeans is located in Park Slope and we love Park Slope, many people think that Jae and I also live in Park Slope.

In fact, we live in Bushwick, a neighborhood in the northeast corner of Brooklyn. It's an old Catholic working class neighborhood, originally populated with German immigrants, then Italian, and now mostly Puerto Rican and Dominican.

Jae moved here about 7 years ago to find affordable studio space. Since then, there has been an influx of artist/musician types moving into the renovated warehouses that are cheaper to rent than their Williamsburg equivalents.

Our dear friend and down-the-hall neighbor, Hrag Vartanian, moved in at the same time as Jae. Hrag is a journalist who has been researching and writing about Bushwick for many years.

Recently, the Wall Street Journal tapped Hrag to give a tour of Bushwick and show how the neighborhood is changing. I share it with you today to give you a glimpse into this wonderful, little-known Brooklyn neighborhood and get a sneak peek into the place where we live!

To view the video (which is under 2 minutes long), go to and click the video underneath the "Pursuits" tab about Brooklyn gentrification.

In other news, I'll be at the opening for Radical Lace and Subversive Knitting at the Museum of Arts and Design tonight. Can't wait to report!

Way to represent, H!

View of Bushwick out my window today

Monday, January 22, 2007

Amy Shaw on Worldchanging

My first posting appeared today on Worldchanging!

Titled "Why Craft is Worldchanging," the essay explores how craft is radical, craft is worldchanging, and craft has been with us all along.

Click here to read!

And in case you missed the news, Greenjeans Online -- with e-commerce! -- launched this weekend. Click here to check it out!

Photo: Frank Ridley mades a toy, by Amy Shaw.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Greenjeans Online NOW LIVE!

It is with great excitement that we announce to you --

Greenjeans Online has LAUNCHED!

There you can shop online, read about our philosophy, link to the blog, and more!

New items will be added every week, so bookmark it and check back often!

This is only the beginning. In the coming months, we'll be adding artisan bios, a gift registry, press resources, and other great features.

If there's something in particular you'd like to see available to purchase online, send us an email and we'll be sure to get it up there asap.

And thank you for supporting Greenjeans!

Friday, January 19, 2007

Knitted Journal by Dennis Yuen

Extraordinary Brooklyn bookbinder Dennis Yuen (Cai Lun) has done it again. Just when I think I've seen the most beautiful, interesting, and pleasing bookbinding ever, he comes up with something new!

According to his great blog, he has just completed a new journal with a brilliant knitted cover! It's one of his sculptural books, and accordingly it's titled Knitted. You can see more images of it here.

I'm not sure if he's selling this one, but it sure is something to behold. Others of his books are available at Greenjeans (email for details).

And I thought knitting was just for sweaters and ketchup bottle cozies...

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Snowy Day, and Restocked Shelves

We had a little snow today! See? (That's the snow falling outside the window as K. and B. browse peacefully.)

So as I work feverishly to finish my first Worldchanging blog post, a few notes about what's back in stock...

Wine Barrel Folding Chairs (shown below) by Whit McLeod are here! They are selling for $160 each (and we deliver for free to anywhere in NYC).

We also are fully restocked with Enchanted Lion Books -- Prince Silencio ($14.95), Monday ($16.95), and The Magic Horse of Han Gan ($16.95).

And we have wedding gift favorite two- and three-board sets of Buff Brown's Cutting and Serving Boards ($70 and $112 respectively). Alas, the large boards are sold out as of today, but more are coming soon in cherry, walnut, and spalted maple.

We have plenty of Heart Bunnies and Humpty Dumptys ($32 each) by Judy Geagley in many colors and patterns here now too.

Come and get 'em!

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

I'm Gonna be Anthologized!

Received some very exciting news today -- I'm going to be published in "Extra/ordinary: Craft Culture and Contemporary Art!"

Last fall I submitted an essay proposal to Maria Elena Buszek, a contemporary art historian at Kansas City Art Institute, who is putting together the above-named anthology. Her previous book is "Pin-up Grrrls: Feminism, Sexuality, Popular Culture," great stuff.

The working title of my essay is "The Identity and Economics of 'Craft,' " which may make sense to you as something I'd write if you've been reading the Greenjeans blog here for a while. (See here and here, for example.)

I'm so excited to have this opportunity to flex my academic muscles again. This is my first serious publication opportunity!

Now, I've just got to write it...

(Not to mention that I've still got to get my first entry for Worldchanging written. I am having a very rare bout of writer's block with it. Oh floodgates, when will you open???)

Photo: Self-portrait of me (Amy Shaw) on top of a ridge in Belfast, Maine.

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Adventures of the Travelling Felt Ball

Last year, friends and former South Slopers, Simon and Monica, got married, quit their jobs, and embarked on a long-planned-for trip around the world.

They brought with them one of the marvelous felted wool balls that we have here at Greenjeans. The ball has found itself everywhere from the inside of the roots of a tree in Yosemite to the middle of the desert amidst camels in India. That's Simon at the right taking a bite outta life in San Francisco, where their journey began. The ball is in every photo -- it's like Where's Waldo!

Here is a selection of (gorgeous!) photos from their absorbing photo gallery which you can view in its entirety here.

You can also read their travelogue here.

Alas, Mary and Russell Chamberlain, the makers of the felted wool ball, have decided to close their studio (FeltWorks) in Athens, Ohio, after 8 years of felt making. We are very sad that we will no longer be able to offer their beautiful, colorful, warm and inviting balls, pots, and bowls. But we thank them for making such great work and allowing us to experience it if only for a short time!

Best of luck to you in your new adventures, Mary and Russell!

And continued safe travels, Simon and Monica!

Mariposa Grove, Yosemite National Park, CA (it's the tiny blue dot toward the bottom!)
Monica on the Cliffs of Moher, The Burren, Ireland

Boboli Gardens, Florence, Italy

Bust of Dante, Ravenna, Italy

Circo Massimo, Rome

Newlyweds Donna and Heinz in Vatican City

The Pantheon, Rome

Valley of the Temples, Agrigento, Italy

Mount Etna, Italy

Library at Ephesus, Turkey

Where the Bospherous meets the Black Sea, Turkey

Mehrangarh Fort, Jodhpur, India

Camels on safari, Thar Desert, India

6th Graders at the Taktse International School, near Gangtok, India

Monica on the tram in Kolkata, India

Simon leads on in Darjeeling, India

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Offering to the Gods & Godesses of Snow

Today, more pictures than words.

We made a new window display this week. Can you tell what we're hoping for...?

(I made the paper snowflakes myself.)

This is Mug City.

This is Jae, evidently on hold for someone at the FAA...