Thursday, August 30, 2007

Watch Greenjeans on the CBS Early Show Online

What a trip it was to see ourselves on TV yesterday morning! Thanks to everyone who tuned in to watch and who sent us comments. And thanks again to Amy Kean for approaching us for the piece!

Greenjeans on the CBS Early Show (better quality) from AesBklyn on Vimeo.

(Thanks to my old friend Dag and Early Show producer Joe Long for sending me the clips!)


Wednesday, August 29, 2007

The Inspiring Beginnings of Pritam & Eames

Pritam and Eames is a highly respected and successful gallery of studio furniture in Easthampton, NY. Though we've yet to make a visit ourselves, Jae and I have come to hold a reverent opinion of the gallery based on the reverence with which craftspeople we admire talk about them. They handle work by the best studio furniture makers in the country and have been around long enough to become an institution. We admire their good reputation, high standards, and longevity, and aspire to a version of this for Greenjeans.

So it was incredibly inspiring and encouraging to read about how this husband and wife started on a shoestring with a gleam in their eye and passion in their hearts and, as it sounds, not much else! (Hmmm, we can relate to that!)

Their story, engagingly written by co-founder Bebe Pritam Johnson and punctuated with great photos, posted this week on the Furniture Society's blog. Pritam also makes a very strong and important case for the role and power of furniture as something that can perhaps only be experienced through use, and not so much when the furniture is on a pedestal in a museum and therefore removed from life.

I think you'll like reading this story. Thanks to FS and the writer for sharing it!

[Link to the story here]

[Click here to see the amazing work on view now at Pritam & Eames]

Posted by Amy Shaw
Photo sourced here

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Greenjeans on CBS this Wednesday at 8:08am!

We've got our timeslot!

Tune in to the CBS Early Show this Wednesday morning (Aug. 29) to see a relationship piece about husband-and-wife business partners featuring me and Jae!

The piece scheduled to air at 8:08am EST (after the weather).

Read more about how this all happened here...

And thanks for tuning in!

We're closed for vacation this coming week, 8/27 - 9/4. See you after Labor Day!
posted by Amy Shaw

Thursday, August 23, 2007

League of NH Craftsmen's Fair (part 2)

As I reported in Part 1 of my coverage of the League of New Hampshire Craftsmen's Fair (held at Mt. Sunapee Resort August 4-12), I had the honor of serving as judge for the Living with Craft and Craftwear juried exhibits this year.

Today I'm sharing some of my picks for "best" in the various categories I was asked to judge, as well as some I'd like to give unofficial honorable mention here. All of the artisans are based in New Hampshire and juried members of the League. With only a single exception, I didn't know the identities of any of the makers until after I turned in my final selections.

Given the extremely high caliber of work presented for judging, none of these choices were easy to make, but I spent about 8 hours with the work and made careful considerations. Even reviewing them a few weeks later I still feel confident about my selections. But I wish I could have had some two- or three-way ties! Thanks again to the League for inviting me to judge, and congratulations to all the award winners!

There are lots of pictures here, so sit back and enjoy the show!

Honorable Mention: Beautifully-made pewter creamer and sugar bowl in a traditional New England design inspired by an 18th century Philadelphia design by Jon Gibson, sitting atop a stunning veneered table by Terry Moore.

Another honorable mention to this Windsor-style high chair by Fred Chellis, a crowd favorite and wonderfully built.

Imagine using these sterling silver spoons to stir honey into tea or eat tiramisu... Made by Paulette Werger, they are lovely and playful without being whimsical (I am deathly allergic to "whimsy"), and also perfectly crafted. They were my choice for Best in Metal.

The color of my photo isn't great, but this stained glass hanging lamp by Hans Schepker would look amazing in the corner of a living room. I love the shape and scale. Honorable mention.

This pottery piece, titled "Four Cups with Musical Cookies" is a shelf holding four footed teacups. I love that the crescent-shaped pieces (or "cookies") under the shelf actually move -- they are strung up in a truss built into the underside of the shelf. It's made by Al Jaeger. Honorable mention.

Detail from a tall clock by Don McAulay very nicely embellished with what I'll call "forest findings." Birch bark serves as veneer, green twigs as moldings, and acorns and pine cone add interest without being too camp-y. He also had a bed (with tree trunk posts) and a hutch in the show.

Different fabrics comprise the weft of this rug in an incredibly well-controlled and aesthetically pleasing pattern (that can't be seen in this detail). This rug, loom woven by Hillary Hutton, was a very close second to the braided rug I chose as Best in Fiber.

This was my choice for Best in 2-D work. It's a gorgeous print (much stronger in person) of salt marshes around a lighthouse in Cape Cod. I learned from the photographer, Fred Parsons, after the awards ceremony that, puzzlingly, digital photography isn't accepted by the League any more. Fortunately he's grandfathered in.

This Arts-and-Crafts style sofa was my pick for Best in Traditional Design. The woodworking is flawless and I really liked the fabric selection and sewing of the cushions. I also found it refreshing to seeing this non-regional design in the show. Made by Peter Maynard.

This suit by Patricia Palson, titled "Archipelago Go," is woven wool, and my pick for Best Use of Color in Weaving. Patricia changed the bow after I took this picture, which was a good final touch.

Another finalist for the Best in Fiber category, this lace "peacock doily" by Ann Olson was just perfection.

This braided rug by Sandra Luckury was my choice for Best in Fiber. The gradated effect of the colors pleased me every time I looked at it, and the strong squared corners are very impressive. My great grandmother made braided rugs, and I think this one would have knocked her socks off!

This is a bad picture of a great necklace, and my choice for Best in Jewelry. In order to get the fullest "taste," I tried on of each piece of jewelry I considered. This piece felt great, sat beautifully on my collar, and just made me so happy to wear. And the bead work is astonishing. Cabbage Roses necklace by Gillian Smith.

This is a detail of a very long necklace, and my pick for Best in Metal Jewelry. I liked that the artisan (again Paulette Werger) forged every bit of it by hand (no mass-produced clasps or neck wires here). It's elegant and dramatic, something I could see in MoMA. Not sure of the materials, but I want to stay oxidized sterling silver and faced in 24k gold (?).

This was my selection for Best in Metal Jewelry with Stones. It's hard to see, but sprinkled amidst the silver and gold tab-shaped elements are diamonds, and pearls divide the tabs along the "chain" of the piece. It also wore brilliantly. Made by Christiane Hilbrig-Tauroney.

The "stones" strung on this bold neck piece are actually made of polymer clay. And while I have some issues with polymer, I did very much like how this piece wore (it was comfortable and felt rather protective) and how artfully the stones are rendered. The wooden element is courtesy of the artist's cousin, spoonmaker Dan Dustin. Made by Kathleen Dustin, this was my choice for Best in Mixed Media Jewelry.

These beautiful, diaphanous concoctions by Annie Frye are two scarves and a wrap dress, not a kimono as I initially thought. Very fine fibers of dyed wool are applied with a felting technique into black silk, creating very painterly flowers. The sewing was excellent and the concept just divine. I selected the dress as Best in Clothing, while the scarf with blue flowers was my Best in Show (Craftwear), because I love that it is embellished on both sides.

I was surprised at how little crochet and knitting I found in the Craftwear show. (Where are all the new wave knitters in New Hampshire?? Why don't they apply for the League?) But this crocheted piece by Janett Gilman, which is the "pendant" of a neck wrap, caught my eye and impressed me with its creativity.

This girl's dress by Beth Lux features a mind-blowing hand-sewn smocked collar, and the rest of it is just perfectly sewn, too. In rich, neatly starched cotton of royal purple cotton with green edging. Best in Fine Sewing.

Detail of the child's dress. All of this rich smocking is hand sewn.

Best in Show (Living with Craft). To create this basket, Maggie Tetreault took a hollow gourd, dyed it deep red, and pierced a fine grid of holes in a band at the top through which she wove long rows of pine needles and chevrons in raffia. Nestled and stitched into the bottom of this larger basket is a smaller, shallow basket, the edge of which is barely visible in this photograph. I selected this piece because as my day wore on I realized that when I had to think about other pieces, this is the one that my mind would go to and take refuge in.

Posted by Amy Shaw.
Photos by the author.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

We're Gonna be on TV!

Tune in to the The Early Show on CBS on August 29th to catch a relationship piece about husband-and-wife business partners featuring me and Jae!

It all happened very quickly, and quite out of the blue, (and no we don't have a publicist!). Last week, we got an email from a woman named Amy Kean asking if we are a couple in business together with the words "CBS Early Show" in the subject line. Thinking it might be spam, I replied "Yes!" and figured that was it. But within minutes Amy called the shop and talked to a very surprised Jae, whom I hadn't told about the email yet. It all sounded legit and kinda fun, and the next thing we knew, we had made a date for CBS to come to our very not-unpacked-yet apartment (we moved a couple weeks ago) for an interview!

Amy had found out about us by googling "brooklyn entrepreneur husband and wife" and finding Shawn Liu's recent interview with us for his small business blog, Hear, Hear. She said that she'd considered asking some higher-profile husbands and wives in business, but decided she'd rather go with someone who hadn't had as much publicity yet. How lucky is that?!

The interview took place this past Friday morning, with the producer, cameraman, sound guy, and Amy arriving at 9:30am sharp. They were all very nice people and we had good fun with the shoot. We'd spent time the night before trying to make our box-filled apartment look somewhat less like a disaster area, and researching online what to wear for TV. (Ok, it was mostly me concerned about that one!) By the time they arrived, we had our hair nicely groomed and noses powdered, and were ready to roll. Amy asked lots of great questions and we did our best to be honest and charming.

After a couple hours in the apartment, we went down to Brooklyn Bridge Park where they filmed us casually strolling along the river. It's not that easy to stroll casually on command, but we did our best.

Finally, we came up to the shop where they filmed us helping some (very patient and understanding) customers and just "doing what we do" in the shop.

In all, the taping took about 4 1/2 hours, and by the end we were completely exhausted. But later in the day, Amy and Joe Long (the producer) told us we'd done a great job and had given them excellent material to work with. Yay!

It was a totally strange yet wonderful experience to be movie (ok, television) stars for half a day, and we're very very grateful to Joe and Amy for selecting us for their piece! It'll be interesting to see how they boil all the footage down into a 3-5 minute piece. Guess we'll see on the 29th! (And I'll be sure to post it on the blog if I can get a digital copy...)

Photo: I didn't think to take any pix during the shoot (rats!) but found this one of the Mike Teavee scene in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory here.

Posted by Amy Shaw

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Toxin-Free Toys at Greenjeans

While the media is afrenzy with news of more toy recalls due to "potentially dangerous high levels of chemicals and toxins," (see here, here, and here, and for the best-titled article, "Poison Me Elmo," here), parents are more interested than ever in finding healthy toys for their kids.

At Greenjeans, we offer 100% toxin-free wooden toys made by Frank Ridley's Different Drummer Workshop. Every single toy is handmade by Frank in his barn workshop in the woods of Solon, Maine. The toys are solid Maine pine and maple sanded smooth with no varnish, paint, or any other finish on them, so kids can play (and chew!) to their heart's content with no risk of lead poisoning or exposure to harmful chemicals.

From building blocks and choo choo trains to helicopters and rocking horses, every toys is made with care and designed with the developmental needs of children closely in mind.

The bath toys Frank makes do receive a thin coating of varnish that gets sanded in to keep them from mildewing in the bath. And yes, they all float! These are more suitable for kids past the chewing stage.

Many of Frank's toys are available to order at Greenjeans Online, with a broader selection available in the shop. And you can read more about Frank on our blog here.

So if you're looking for presents for kids, consider toxin-free classic wooden toys at Greenjeans!

Friday, August 10, 2007

Studio Visit: Kit Cornell, potter

During my recent week in New Hampshire I traveled to Exeter for a visit with potter Kit Cornell.

We always try to go to Kit's when we're in the area not only to select new work for Greenjeans, but also to spend time with one of the most thoughtful, politically-engaged, and community-active craftspeople we know. She is a great conversationalist, and she always makes us the nicest tea!

For those of you who love her pottery, be sure to come to this shop this weekend for the best selection of new work!

Here are pictures from my visit this past Sunday (8/5/07). Enjoy!

At right: the glass room filled with pots in Kit's lovely Victorian home, studio, and showroom on High St. in Exeter.

Kit in her showroom.

The showroom at the front of the house.

The studio is in the basement. These shelves are filled with pots ready for the kiln.

New covered salt dishes Kit has been working on.

Kit teaches pottery in her studio as well. These are her students' aprons.

Bags of clay from all over the world. Sometimes Kit digs up clay she finds in the area, too.

A mysterious array of glaze ingredients. Kit concocts her own glazes, and likes to experiment with historical recipes.

Applewood ash to be used for glazes.

Applewood ash glaze samples on stoneware (left) and white clay (right). We have some new pieces in this amazing, almost celadon-colored glaze.

The impressive kiln behind the house, sheltered by a structure inspired by Japanese tea houses.

Kit sitting in the patio area at the back of the kiln/tea house.

The kiln is surrounded by Kit's gardens that are filled with tomatoes, berries, flowers... I ate these raspberries right after photographing them. There's nothing more summery than eating juicy raspberries off the vine that are still warm from the sun!

Used temperature-reading cones playfully wedged into part of the kiln shelter.

Before we looked at pottery, we sat for lemonade, berries, and conversation in Kit's wonderful kitchen.

I've always loved that Kit has a United Nations flag hanging on her front porch. It's hard to see, but there's an "Obama '08" poster in the window, too.

A final shot: Kit finishing a small pitcher.

Thank you for our visit and letting me take so many pictures, Kit. And thank you for making your amazing work and teaching others to make pottery, too!

Posted by Amy Shaw

Sunday, August 05, 2007

League of NH Craftsman's Fair (part 1)

The 74th Annual League of New Hampshire Craftsman's Fair is currently underway, running thru August 12th at the Mt. Sunapee Ski Resort in NH, and that's where I've been the last couple of days. It's the longest-running craft fair in the United States, with over 200 exhibitors and demonstrators this year. I took these pictures on Saturday with my Dad.

People love coming to this particular craft fair not only to meet the artisans and watch many of them in action making work, but also because they know all of the artisans are juried members of the League; their work satisfies the League's very high standards of quality and craftsmanship, from lace making to chainsaw sculpture.

Plus Mt. Sunapee is beautiful this time of year, and you can ride the chair lift up and down the mountain -- the sweet scent of ferns mixed with super fresh air is unbelievable!

This year I had an extra experience at the fair -- I was asked to be a juror for their Living with Craft and Craft Wear exhibits, a huge honor and a great pleasure. I got to spend about 8 hours over Wednesday and Thursday examining and experiencing work in every media, testing rocking in chairs, donning necklaces, handling everything from pewter pitchers to lace, and in the end to select "the best" in various categories for awards. It was a great and challenging experience and I am grateful to the league for entrusting the role to me this year.

Kudos to the fair organizers, volunteers, and craftspeople for creating an amazing and enjoyable event once again. Craft fairs are tough enough to put on in a convention center, so it is quite a feat of production wizardry to stage on the side of a mountain! The tents and booths and exhibit halls look great and there's so much to see a whole day hardly seems enough.

Here's a sampling of the great bounty to be found under the big white tents... If you're anywhere near the area, it's not to be missed!

Mother and daughter Barbara Fisher and Janet Fitzgerald's masterful braided rugs. They are lovely women, and I hope to take one of their workshops soon and learn to repair the old ones my great grandmother made.

Dan Dustin and his wife Missy in the fabulous booth he builds from barn boards.

Dad reaching for a spoon. We'll have a big new batch of spoons at the shop when I'm back Wednesday! I'll post pictures.

The fair warming up early Saturday afternoon.

Weaver Hillary Hutton demonstrating how she makes her gorgeous painterly rugs.

A wool weaving easel for kids by Marcy Schepker.

Dad took this picture of Jeff Brown and me in his booth where he was also demonstrating throwing pots.

The Next Generation booth, where the youngest craftspeople sell their accomplishments in blacksmithing, glass blowing, wood turning, jewelry making, and more. Very impressive stuff. I purchased a glass paperweight with an orange flower inside.

The front of the Living with Craft juried exhibit.

The basket at the left, made by Sharon Dugan from a gourd, raffia, and pine needles, and with a smaller basket stitched inside was my selection for Best in Show. I love the walnut table here by Ted Blachly, too. The legs unscrew and go into the leather quiver, and the tabletop is engineered so it can be hung on the wall. That's one of Dan Dustin's spoons atop it.

It was pretty hot the last few days. I took this picture Saturday (thermometer reads 110 degrees), and it was hotter (or at least more humid) the days prior.

So at the end of each day, I drove about 3 minutes to the State Park to swim in Lake Sunapee. The water there is clear and pleasant, and, country girl that I am at my foundation, I know there's nothing that beats a quick dunk in the lake after a hot day's work.

I also want to thank Bill and Ellen Carruth for their hospitality at their top-notch 1806 Inn. The Robert Frost room was cool and comfortable, and I slept great in the big 4-poster bed. Former rare book dealers, Bill and Ellen are great conversationalists and devoted gardeners, and they've created a wonderful new place for travelers to stay.

Part 2, with more pix, coming soon...

Posted by Amy Shaw