Monday, April 30, 2007

Interview with Greenjeans on Hear, Hear

Earlier this year, Shawn Liu, our friend and co-owner of Iridesco, interviewed us for his online publication Hear, Hear.

He began his questions by asking, "You guys are really young. How and why did you decide to start Greenjeans and take on the responsibility of running a retail store?" Link to the full interview here.

As we enter into our third year of business, it was great to sit down with Shawn and reflect on our experience starting and running Greenjeans. Thank you for this great piece, Shawn!

Friday, April 27, 2007

Studio Visit: Dan Dustin, Spoon Maker

On March 28, 2007, Jae and I visited Dan Dustin, spoon maker, at his home and workshop in Contoocook, NH. It was a fun, stimulating evening, and Dan had recently learned that the Currier Museum of Art in Manchester, NH, selected four of his spoons to purchase for their permanent collection, which includes impressive holdings of work by New Hampshire artisans (and happens to be the place where Jae and I first met). Congratulations again, Dan!

Next to the dining room table is the spot where Dan gives finished spoons a final rubbing of oil. As soon as he finishes eating, he can turn in his chair and pick up work, remaining social all the while.

The Dustin's collection of Personal Eating Spoons stationed in the center of the kitchen table. Dinner with Dan and his wife Missy begins with selecting which spoon you'd like to use. They feel warm and well-suited for eating stew, and every bite becomes an aesthetic experience.

Dan has many other passions besides spoon-making. From time to time, he creates truly amazing pots from fruit rinds. In my hands is one made from a watermelon rind turned inside out. How he manages this feat is a mystery to me, but the result is one of the most remarkable objects I've ever held. In the background, a group of flutes under repair lay across his desk beside the music stand -- he's also an accomplished flautist.

Created in the same way as the watermelon pot, this is an orange peel pot freshly removed from the "kiln." After turning a whole orange peel painstakingly inside out, Dan puts it in his wood stove and covers it with ash to dry.

A true aesthete, at one point during our visit Dan notices how the light is casting on Jae. He says I should take a picture...
Downstairs in the studio/workshop, Jae selects spoons to bring back to Greenjeans. Dan reminds us that you don't pick the spoons, the spoons pick you, so we handle them and use our instincts to make selections.

When Dan was young, he would see objects like this in the workshops of "old timers," and wonder if he could ever work on a surface so much as to create such handprints of labor. Today, Dan uses this surface to carve against and split wood into spoons. I don't know the name for it, but this is his third.

Behind the work surface lies a pool of splinters from forming spoons.

During my last visit in late 2006, photographer Clive Russ was also there taking photographs of Dan and his work. This is downstairs in the studio/workshop.

Jae admires the finished products while Dan finishes more spoons.

Thank you, Dan and Missy, for your hospitality and for the marvelous visit!

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Salon Series at the American Craft Council

Working to spark "new conversations in contemporary craft," the American Craft Council has just announced its first Salon Series. Organized by Director of Education Lily Kane, the three-part series promises to be a stimulating and engaging continuation of conversations started at the ACC Conference last October in Houston (that I attended and blogged about here).

Yours truly, along with neighbor Rena Tom of Rare Device, will be speaking at the third salon about blogging.

The Salons will be held in the ACC's wonderful library in SoHo. Limited attendance is first-come-first-served, so RSVP today to or 212-274-0630 to save your spot!

Here's the line-up:

Thursday, May 17th

The Craft of Contemporary Design

Kick off ICFF weekend with a presentation by award-winning New Zealand based furniture maker/designer David Trubridge.

Trubridge’s work has been exhibited at the ICFF and the Milan Fair since 2001 and is distributed by Cappellini, Boffi and Design Mobel among others. In addition, he is a returning teacher to the Vitra Design Museum summer school and was the Wornick Visiting Distinguished Professor at the California College of the Arts.

6-7 p.m., reception to follow

Thursday, July 26th

Marketplace Interventions: the Do-It-Yourself Renaissance

Join Reverend Callie Janoff of NYC Church of Craft and Hodge Podge clothing designer Cal Patch for a discussion on how they’re converting, inspiring, educating and creating the next wave of craft lovers.

6-7 p.m., reception to follow

Thursday, September 20th

Blogging the Handmade: Creating Community, Conversation and Commerce

Join Brooklyn gallery owners Amy Shaw (Greenjeans) and Rena Tom (Rare Device) to hear how their blogs are linking craft and design lovers and building communities smitten with unique handmade objects.

6-7 p.m., reception to follow

Hope to see, and hear, you there!

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Notes on a Sunny Saturday

Everyone is out and about today, enjoying the flowering trees and warm sunshine. Spring skirts flirt down 7th Avenue, and kids on trikes pedal by slowly without a care in the world. We are trying to think of how we can move the whole shop into the park for the summer so we can enjoy the sunshine, too!

Today, a few mentions of goings on:

:: Photography and writing from Uganda
Writer (and Jae's cousin) Kyu-Young Lee is in Uganda for a few weeks with Chien-Chi Chang, a great photographer from Magnum Photos, documenting the story of malaria in that country. Kyu is documenting the trip in a fascinating blog. Kyu works for Millennium Promise, a nonprofit organized by Jeffrey Sachs that, in partnership with Columbia University's Earth Institute and the UN Development Programme, is working to eradicate extreme poverty.

:: Earth Day is Sunday
Check out the concerts, rallies, and events going on near you. Or at least remember to recycle and turn off the water when you brush your teeth...

:: WorldChanging blog: "Phthalate Phthreat"
Have you heard of phthalates (pronounced "thalates")? Did you know they're in loads of consumer products (including polymer clay, vinyl shower curtains, and teething rings) but may be damaging to our health? Read more about them in my recent post for WorldChanging, as I review a piece by New York editor Emily Gertz from Plenty magazine.

:: Greenjeans Auction ends Sunday at 9pm
Check out the 10 items up on the block, and place your bids! 10% of auction proceeds go to the New Orleans Area Habitat for Humanity.

:: Happy Birthday, Mary Anne!
Ceramics artist Mary Anne Davis is celebrating "a big" birthday today. Wishing you a beautiful day and a creative, healthy, and fulfilling year!

Friday, April 20, 2007

New Arrivals! (Pendants, Books, Brooms)

Today is sunny and nearly 70 degrees in Brooklyn. After way too much cold and rain, it is finally feeling like Spring!

We have lots of new arrivals to match the springtime mood, especially some great pendants and necklaces that look beautiful on bare skin.

Also, if you've never found cleaning to be much of an aesthetic experience, get yourself one of the gorgeous handmade brooms by students of Berea College in Kentucky. They perform great and look even better.

We also have a new title in store, Tyger! Tyger!, from Enchanted Lion Books.

Come by to see for yourself this weekend, catch the Lisa Congdon show at Rare Device next door, then walk across Prospect Park and take in the cherry blossoms in the Brooklyn Botanic Garden...

(At top/right: Double-stone pendant with pearl and peridot by Julie Jerman-Melka, $158)

The new line of embroidered and crocheted jewelry all handmade by Erica Schlueter ($72-$148)

I'm head-over-heels for this necklace of raw black diamonds and granite on oxidized silver by Julie Jerman-Melka ($365)

Sweet riverstone pendant with garnet on sterling silver by Julie Jerman-Melka ($92)

Necklace of raw white diamonds, citrine, and granite on sterling silver by Julie Jerman-Melka ($440)

Cherry blossoms adorn this pendant by Kristina Kada strung on silk kumihimo cord handmade by the artist's mother ($180)

Spring greens! Double-sided pendant by Alison Mackey (photo under clear resin in silver bezel, comes with silver neckwire), and her other work in the background ($100)

Beautifully illustrated (though not so easy to wear around the neck), this is a new title from Brooklyn's own Enchanted Lion Books ($16.95)

Brooms made by students of Berea College in Kentucky ($21-$28)

And finally, a peek at the tulips in the window that I bought at the farmer's market last weekend, along with some soft spring-friendly baby hats by `eko-logic ($28-$35).

Thursday, April 19, 2007

New Auction - Now til Sunday!

Check out Greenjeans Auction House this week for the opportunity to get great prices on a selection of 10 first-quality items from the shop!

Not only are the prices good, but it's for a good cause: 10% of the auction proceeds go to the New Orleans Area Habitat for Humanity.

Auction ends Sunday night at 9pm!

Here's a sample of what's up for bid:

Dawg made by Judy Geagley. (Opening bid: $30. Normally $57.)

Enamel Pendant by Alana Dlubak of Venice, CA (Opening bid: $50. Normally $95.)

Custom End Table made by Geoffrey Ouellette in Gilford, NH (Opening bid: $425. Normally $650.)

Thank you for bidding, and good luck!

Monday, April 16, 2007

A Little Tax-Time Humor

As we all finish up our taxes to send out tomorrow, here's a little dose of good humor, courtesy of clever Bill Summers.

I noticed it in his workshop and asked what it was.

"It's a tacks shelter," he said, just deadpan enough that I didn't get it right away...

He gave it to me. Even signed the bottom.

A very handy thing to have at this time of year, a convenient tacks shelter! Thank you, Bill!

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Here's What's Coming Up Next...

We've been struggling with some computer issues this week (think "clean install") that have hindered some regular activities, like photoshopping and blogging.

There's lots of good stuff in the works for upcoming blog postings, though, so keep checking in!

Here's what's coming up next...

:: Studio Visit with Dan Dustin, spoon maker, in Contoocook, New Hampshire

:: Book reviews of Surreal Eden: Edward James and Las Pozas and By Hand: The Use of Craft in Contemporary Art, both recently out from Princeton Architectural Press

:: Exhibition Review of One of a Kind: The Studio Craft Movement at the Metropolitan Museum of Art (on thru Sept. 3)

:: Examination of red coral as a jewelry material and the ecological impact of harvesting coral

:: Preview of the upcoming salon series at the American Craft Council organized by Lily Kane

... Plus photos of new arrivals and other news from Greenjeans.

Stay tuned!

Monday, April 09, 2007

Greenjeans Review: Kentridge's "The Magic Flute" at BAM

Tonight Jae and I attended the U.S. premiere of William Kentridge's production of Mozart's The Magic Flute. Performed at the Brooklyn Academy of Music (produced by the Royal Opera House of Belgium), it was our most anticipated cultural event of the year (so far), and we were not disappointed.

William Kentridge is a South African artist whose work deals with humanism, race, corruption, redemption, and beauty. Though he started in theater, he is best known for the stop-action animated films that he makes by drawing images, erasing them, then re-drawing. These silent, semi-narrative films are set to classical music, and watching them is mesmerizing. They are allegories about lovers, politicians, workers, and generals told by an intelligent poet. Elusive and never obvious, he understands the power of ambiguity and interpretation, perhaps because he grew up during Apartheid with his father a lawyer for the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

Kentridge brings all of this to the production. As director and set designer he created a performance that is part opera and part laser light show, where instead of cheesy hokum the lights recreate his mysterious animated drawings.

During the opening medley, a graceful montage of simple lines, curves, planets, and rays of light dance grandly in white across the scrim, which is both the canvas for the light drawings and is itself printed with a drawing of a room with a ladder and piles of stones. As the scrim rises, we see the set and costumes suggesting a 19th century colonialist conceit. The three Ladies-in-waiting wear voluminous Edwardian bustles and corsets with the swirls and lines of the animations embroidered onto their skirts. They are playing with an old-fashioned box camera balanced on a rickety wooden tripod (perhaps a take on the megaphone form that often appears in his work). Tomino enters safari-ready in khakis and pith helmet. Later, we meet Sarastro and his gentleman-scholar attendants wearing ascots, vests, and tails. He writes on an old-fashioned black board easel using a wooden straight-edges and compass. Edging the entire stage perimeter are charcoal drawings on gray evoking palm trees, rattan patterns, and tall grass.

Projected from multiple laser boxes around the theater, digital renderings of Kentridge's animated drawings (like those in the opening) appear throughout the production creating a wonderful sense of movement on stage. Black chalkboards come to life as geometric proofs play out to the music, and still backdrops erupt into churning water, leaping flames, or sprays of starlight. At one point, a square film projection at the back of the stage shows the silhouette of the artist taming animated black birds. Another shows an animated drawing of a rhinoceros, and later the artist uses historical footage of safari hunters shooting a real rhino, playing with the line between imagined and real.

Kentridge also plays with our perceptions of recorded film and live performance. In the scene where Pamina tries to escape the advances of Monostatos, we watch the performers' stylized movements in silhouette, and it looks like a campy old silent film where the villain pursues the maiden, complete with tinny piano accompaniment. The next time we see silhouette, it's a projected film made using torn-paper figures.

The iconography in the animated drawings is clearly inspired by Enlightenment-era scientific diagrams of optics and the solar system, as well as Masonic themes. In Act II's scenes in the Temple of Sarastro, animated lines form into triangles, and then pyramids, and then an eye appears, blinking at top of the pyramid as the performers sing of Isis and Osiris. The effect is aesthetically pleasing if not otherwise illuminating.

Accompanied by live orchestra, the international cast gave a mostly satisfying performance last night, especially soprano Sophie Karthauser (Pamina). Bass Kaiser N'Kosi (Sarastro) and baritone Stephan Loges (Papageno) were also particularly good, as were the Three Ladies (Salome Haller, Isabelle Everarts De Velp, and Angelique Noldus).

Taking the whole opera, not just the stage, as his canvas, Kentridge's animations are as alive as the performers. Instead of just actors in front of a static backdrop, he creates a relationship between the performers and the animations as they interact with the drawings: the Three Boys "draw" on the black chalkboard and later "erase" it; the Queen of the Night traces a giant circle in the air with her arm as a planet follows its orbit around the entire proscenium. When these movements occur in sync it's like hearing a soprano hit a high note in perfect pitch (though there were a few foibles with both tonight).

Smaller at least by half, the BAM Opera House is much more intimate than the Metropolitan (where we saw The First Emperor earlier this year), and from what we could tell there was nary a bad seat in the house. (We had good orchestra seats, thanks to my calling the day tickets went on sale. One could say we're Kentridge fans. Certainly I've been an enthusiast since I first saw his drawings and prints at Robert Brown Gallery in Washington, D.C. ten years ago.)

If you've seen and appreciated Kentridge's work, and can handle opera, you'll get a lot out of this performance. Unfortunately if you don't already have tickets, you might be out of luck this time around -- it's at BAM for only three more nights (April 11, 13, & 14 at 7:30pm). Call their box office at 718-636-4100 to find out!

For more on Kentridge, check out:

Footage of the opera performed in Naples.

Clips of animated drawings.

Kentridge prints from his publisher, David Krut.

Wiki on Kentridge.

Top 3 photos by Stephanie Berger.
Image of Kentridge in his studio sourced here,
Image of Queen of the Night sourced here.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Making Armenian Easter Eggs... Badly

Most craft blogs showing pictures of works-in-progress end with a shot of the successful final result. But isn't craft sometimes about applying considerable effort only to wind up with something other than what you expected? Isn't craft sometimes about failed attempts? Sure it is. That's how we learn!

Case in point: making Armenian Easter Eggs at my friend Hrag's apartment last night. Hrag (who blogs here) had invited me and Veken over to watch him transform pedestrian white eggs into ruby-red orbs of vernal glory, and I couldn't help but take some pictures to blog about it.

But instead of red eggs, his efforts yielded sometime altogether different, and much funnier: he transformed white eggs into brown eggs! When he was done, we truly could not tell the difference between the brown eggs in his fridge and the white eggs he'd dyed.

At the end of the day, craft isn't so much about the final result as the process. For me, I had fun, learned something about someone else's holiday craft traditions, and know what to do differently next year (hint: use purple, not Spanish, onions; dry the onion skins first; and use vinegar!)

Happy Easter!

Hrag blowing out the eggs. He pointed out that they're organic.

After letting the red onion skins simmer for a while, he stirred the hollow eggs into the dye. Things looked promising at first!

What we were expecting... (photo sourced here)...

...and what we got. After quite some time cooking in the dye, this is the "reddest" they turned.

Hrag put two of the dyed eggs in with actual brown eggs. We couldn't tell the difference. Can you?

Hrag also dyed 2 hardboiled eggs so he and Veken could play the traditional egg fight game. (Veken won.)

Good natured about it all, Hrag enjoys a post-crafting sandwich and a good laugh!

Saturday, April 07, 2007

News from the Indie Craft Frontier

Last weekend the first Craft Congress convened in Pittsburgh. The meeting drew together a serious group of who I'd call "craftsters" (makers, organizers, bloggers, etc. that make up the indie craft community) from all over the country. I did not attend, but Christy Petterson, co-editor of, wrote a great recap on her blog here. Check it out!

In other indie craft news, the much-anticipated Indie Craft Documentary is reportedly complete, and an 8-minute trailer is available to view online or right below here. Officially titled Handmade Nation: The Rise of D.I.Y. Art, Craft & Design, the film is due for a March 2008 release. If you haven't been following the incredibly dedicated and comprehensive work of filmmakers Faythe Levine & Micaela O'Herlihy, you can catch up with them here.

Craft on!

Thursday, April 05, 2007

New Arrivals: Spoons, Baskets, Perfume Bottles, Orbs

Some pictures of new arrivals for you, fresh from our trip to New Hampshire!

We're open all weekend, so come on in to find lots of spring-flavored gifts, baby wear, and more beautiful works of craft for you and your home!

Or call us to order something you see here (718-907-5835).

At right/above: Handcarved wooden spoons made by Dan Dustin in Contoocook, NH, ($30-$185).

Heirloom baskets (for generations of Easter egg hunts!) made by Ray Lagasse (left) and David Emerson (right), both New Hampshire artisans, ($80 each).

Extra large orb made by Jane Kaufmann in Durham, NH, ($350)

Large orbs (pink irises and red poppies, $125 each). Shown with small orb ($38).

A brand new batch of perfume bottles made by Matthew Eskuche in Pittsburgh, PA, ($48-$150 each).

Pottery Salt & Pepper Shakers made by John Zentner in Northwood, NH, ($24 per pair).

Military Tank Cozy (& other BIG knitting)

Saw this tonight on Whip Up...

It's by Danish artist Marianne Joergensen. The "tank cozy" was created from 4000 pink knitted and crochet squares created last year by volunteers and stitched together on site. It presently stands outside Nikolaj Contemporary Art Centre in Copenhagen. I think the title is "Pink M.24 Chaffee."

For more pictures and to read more about the project, click here.

Don't know if this is associated with the work of U.S. anti-war group Code Pink, but it sure doesn't leave one wondering about the artist's position on the war!

Yet another example of craft in service of peace. (Although, come to think of it, no one really uses craft to serve war!)

I'd love to do an exhibition with this tank along with work by...

(tagging sign posts, benches, and other public structures with knitting)

Ming Yi Sung
(prodigious crocheted gardens of earthly delights, and scarves)

Knitting Nation
(Liz Collins' events in which she and a crew make enormous knit objects, like this flag)

David Cole
(those are real cranes knitting a flag outside of Mass MoCA)

Craft rulz!