Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Halloween in Park Slope & Pumpkin's Organic Market

Yesterday's Halloween celebration in Park Slope was quite an event! The day was fairly quiet, but at around 4:00 costumed people of all ages started coming out of the woodwork and promenading the avenue demanding candy (see picture here taken on our block). We thought we'd learned from last year and had enough candy (10 bags!) but by 5:00 we were already wiped out. This invited heckling, so we closed shop early, vowing that next year we will hand out less per kid, and we'll dress up. Who knew there was so much pressure to join in? Yeesh.

These are a few shots of fun costumes yesterday.

Halloween may not be my favorite holiday of all time, but up the street from Greenjeans is one of my favorite places in Brooklyn: Pumpkin's Organic Market (corner of 8th Ave. and 13th St.). At Pumpkin's they're planning for Halloween all year long, and the results are very impressive!

Click here to see a slide show of the amazing work they do to turn their sweet general store into a house of horrors! (The "brain juice" here amidst the dusted almonds and white chocolate chips is only the beginning...)

Stocked with Christina Cassano's beautifully curated collection of foods, Pumpkin's features local produce, organic dairy and juices, organic free-range meats, and a great selection of bulk rice, beans, flour, and nuts, not to mention lots of indie small-batch dessert treats. Jae and I love to stop in for dinner ingredients or just to browse what wonderful new items Christina has found.

Pumpkin's is as brimming with values and philosophy as it is with bountiful goods. Favoring local and small-scale producers, they don't rely on a lot of big agribusiness organic producers like most health food stores these days. And there's more than food. There are also organic cotton one-sies and yoga pants, pure bath products and candles, green and progressive magazines, and a huge selection of loose tea and herbs, all organic.

One of my favorite details is rather than sell bottled water, there's a porcelain drinking fountain standing under a sign for "City Soda." Nice!

Now, to start planning my costume for next Halloween...

Posted and photos by Amy Shaw.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Finding Relief from Design Overload

I look at works of craft, art, and design all day. Here in the shop, on blogs and websites, in magazines, in other shops and galleries... When I get home, I "relax" with more magazines, books and catalogs, even documentaries. It's all around all the time. And usually I'm pretty happy about that.

But sometimes, it can all get to be too much! Cousin Jason paraphrased my feelings exactly the other day. He picked up the latest issue of New York Magazine--yet another design issue devoted to yet another design week--flipped through a couple pages, then tossed it back on the coffee table muttering "ugh, design!" while shaking his hands in quasi-anxiety.

Times like these I find respite in the wonderful words of Eva Zeisel (that came printed on the side of the box to the Eva Teakettle my Dad gave us as a housewarming gift):

"I hoped my designs would bring pleasure to users when they had time to notice them, and yet recede when they were too busy or tired."

I love that. And, living with her tea kettle, I can attest that she achieved her hope.

Sometimes though, when things get too serious, I just need a good laugh. That's when I visit the website Thwart Design and click on "Progress," then "Design w/o Reach." Try it! Delight!!

If all that isn't enough, I turn to my favorite sensory deprivation treatment: a long soak in the tub. It's pretty simple, but it does the trick. And I leave the design magazines far on the other side of the bathroom...

What do YOU do when you need a break from it all?

* * *

Tonight we're off to NH for a couple of days. Be back on Wednesday with fresh pottery by John Zentner, new large orbs by Jane Kaufmann, and a new supply of Shaker peg boards by David Emerson. Til then!

Posted by Amy Shaw
Photos: Top - Ball Clock from Thwart Design; Bottom - Eva Teakettle

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Interview with 55 Secret Street

On a messy, rainy day a few months ago, (a day much like today), I met a woman at Tea Lounge in Park Slope who was, like me, juggling coffee, umbrella, bags, and her Metro card heading down to the subway platform. We bonded over our common encumberances, holding each other's coffee while the other situated herself.

As we collapsed onto the subway bench, I asked her what she does for a living. Turns out, she's a writer and, among other fascinating projects, writes an addictive style and entertainment blog called 55 Secret Street. I told her about Greenjeans, and she asked if she could come by and interview us for her blog. The results went up yesterday!

Nichelle asked some great questions, and we talked a lot about sustainability and "going green," as well as the local business culture. She even got me to come up with some tips for greener living, and list my "beauty must-haves" (which I'd never realized I had!)

It was great meeting you, Nichelle, and I wish you all the best with your projects!

Check out the interview and 55 Secret Street right here!

Posted by Amy Shaw.
Images: screen shot of 55 Secret Street homepage.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Amy as Featured Buyer on Etsy

The fine folks at Etsy recently asked if I would like to be a Featured Buyer for their new online feature, The Storque.

It just went up today -- click here to check it out!

I spent hours combing through pictures of work by the over 50,000 vendors who sell their work on Etsy. I couldn't look at everything, but I definitely found some gems.

One thing I learned is that it's very difficult to judge quality from a picture. When I look at works of craft, I handle them, and if I can't handle them, I can't fully understand them. So my selections were made with this handicap. But I feel fairly confident about my selections. I hope you enjoy them!

Thanks to Vanessa for asking me and Alison for coordinating my submission!

[Permanent link to Featured Buyer: Greenjeans' Amy Shaw]

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Greenjeans in Cool Mom Picks

Thanks to Cool Mom Picks for including Greenjeans in their 2007 Safer Toy Guide!

They're featuring the Wooden Toy Sailboat by Frank Ridley, pictured here. We also have lots of other toxin-free classic wooden toys by Frank in the shop and online. Read more about Frank and his toys here.

Thanks again to Cool Mom Picks for including us!

Please Take Our Customer Survey!

Whether you're a devoted customer or if you've never purchased anything from Greenjeans before, whether you've been to the shop or only to the website, we need your feedback!

Please help us help you by taking our online Customer Survey, and in return you will receive 15% off your next purchase with us.

Thanks to everyone who has already done the survey! And thanks to everyone who goes and does it right now! Your feedback is so valuable to us.

[Click here for the Customer Survey.]

Posted by Amy Shaw.
Image sourced here.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Studio Visit: Matthew Eskuche

While Jae and I were in Pittsburgh over this past Labor Day weekend, we got to drop in on glass artist Matthew Eskuche whose work is featured in our current exhibition, "Garbage Collection."

I took pictures and shot some video in his studio. (Thank you, Matt!) And I've put it together in a new movie for you (length: 03:15). Enjoy!

Click here to read about "Garbage Collection" and see pictures of the work and the opening reception.

Studio Visit: Matthew Eskuche (length: 03:15) from AesBklyn on Vimeo.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Big Opportunities for Craft Artists (Oct. deadlines!)

Two upcoming deadlines to mention today.

First, you have only six more days to enter your handmade car accessory into Toyota Scion's Craft My Ride competition! Top prize is a new car... Click here for the application and to read more. The deadline is Monday, October 22!

Second, and I know I've been writing a lot about the American Craft Council lately, but an interesting press release from them just came into my inbox last night.

The ACC is offering 40 spaces at its huge and prestigious American Craft Show in Baltimore to "the new wave craft crowd." Spaces will cost a mere $300 instead of the usual $1500+ for a booth, and there's no application fee. [Added 10/20: The ACC clarified to me that spaces will be in a shared area, not regular full booths, but they will be on the main floor.] (This is for the February 2008 retail show, not the wholesale show that takes place beforehand.)

This is a HUGE opportunity for emerging craft artists to get your work noticed by major craft galleries, museum store buyers, department store buyers, serious craft collectors, and thousands of others. (It will also make things spicier for the fair's attendees -- I can't wait to see, and report about it!)

Applicants have until Monday, October 29 to submit by email:

· Three low-res images of your work
· A brief description of your work (materials, dimensions, special techniques)
· Your contact information (mail and e-mail addresses).

Email your submission to and put in the subject line "I want to get rad in Baltimore!" Finalists will be announced in November.

The ACC seems to be making serious efforts to make space for what I call the "craft new wave," and I'm excited to see what they chose to present at the February show. I hope they get boatloads of applications!

Posted by Amy Shaw.
Photo courtesy of the American Craft Council.

Friday, October 12, 2007

The New American Craft Magazine (Review/Essay)

(Note: The first and last images are of the new American Craft magazine. All the rest are older issues. See details at the end of this post.)

In case you’re just returning from months at sea with no contact to the mainland, you may not have heard that the 66-year old American Craft magazine has undergone a major re-launch under the direction of Andrew Wagner, former executive editor and founding managing editor of San Francisco-based Dwell magazine, and Jeannette Abbink, former Dwell founding creative director.

After much anticipation, I received the first issue of the new American Craft (Oct/Nov 2007, pictured top right) and noticed immediately that things had changed. A new font, a new format, a new look, and even new paper immediately grabbed my attention, and the 144 pages of rich content drew me right in. It’s almost like a whole new magazine, more lush and bold than before, extending the limits of what an “American” craft magazine can be.

The launch party on September 19 was a pretty good indicator that this isn’t your father’s Oldsmobile. It was unexpectedly fabulous and definitely exciting. (The American Craft Council should throw an event like that every year!) Click here to see some pictures.

At the same time, the new version of this respected magazine undeniably maintains the dedication to and passion for craft and its practitioners found in the pages of its earlier self.

The strongest and most common criticism I’ve heard (at the launch party and since) is aimed at the mag’s newly internationalized scope, which, reasonably, one might not expect from a publication titled American Craft. I have heard both first-hand and through friends that many readers find the international content odd, and many artisans are downright distressed about this wider angle. My sense is that some American artisans feel their territory has been violated, that somehow the magazine is threatening their existence by covering a French multimedia artist or the craft scene in Australia.

For me, the international coverage is inspiring and does a great job of both introducing exciting work in the field of craft to American readers as well as putting American craft into a broader and more relevant context.

But I am getting ahead of myself. After reading the new issue, I sat down with both it and the Aug/Sept ’07 issue, the last of the earlier version. Here I offer you some highlights from the newly re-launched American Craft magazine and my thoughts about its new direction.

The cover, a beautiful close-up color photo of French artist Nathalie Lété flirtatiously half-veiled by the cover flap, is definitely a departure (and only the third time a person has appeared on the cover, I'm told). The new font in wheat strikes out against the aubergine background, announcing itself as it invites us to go inside…

The new mag starts with two of the many new features: “Call & Response” (letters to the editor) and the “Editor’s Letter,” both of which create space for much-needed feedback and dialogue. The old “Craft World” section (pages and pages of craft world news) has been deconstructed and transformed into a 30-page feast called “Zoom.” Here we find short articles on galleries (“Shop Talk”), notable works of craft (“Product Placement”), upcoming exhibitions (“Preview”), and emerging talent (“Radar”). Book reviews and exhibition listings are peppered throughout.

There is even a “Blog Beat” bringing a handful of craft-related blogs to the reader’s attention. Thumbs up for that – new media, including blogging and the internet, is having a great impact on the American and international craft community, connecting and fostering a broader, more diversified craft world. I appreciate the more in-depth approach and very much like the vibe of the new “Zoom” section. Compared to what came before, it is fresh, vibrant, and exciting. The visuals and layout play a big part in creating this sense.

The new layout also tripped me up a little. For example, I found having a book review and an exhibition preview pressed side by side on the page a little awkward to process (especially since the inside margins are a bit too tight against the text). Also, placing the exhibition listings along the margins of the pages doesn’t quite work for me; it seemed too fractured. I prefer the old “Calendar” section which, although inelegant, did a better job of offering a comprehensive “menu” of what’s one tap for the next two months.

After “Zoom,” we turn to the meaty sections and notice right away that there’s definitely an international flavor happening here. A short piece on a Dutch designer inaugurates the new (and particularly promising) “Material Culture” section, followed by a piece about a New Zealand-based maker. Next come three multi-page reviews of craft-related exhibitions in (American) institutions.

Next we read a story about a Brooklyn-based artist who makes intricate wood sculptures, then head back overseas, this time to France, for a story about the alluring home of an artist who makes everything from her rugs to her jewelry. (It is her picture featured on the cover of the mag.) These are both great and feature big juicy pictures of the artists’ work and studios. The savory content continues with a story about the George Ohr museum on the Gulf Coast followed by “Critic’s Corner,” which this month addresses the issue of how craft presents itself within the history of modernism.

The next section, “From the Stacks,” is brilliant. It simply reprints a carefully-selected set of pages from an old issue of American Craft or Craft Horizons (the magazine’s earlier title), directly sharing with us pages from craft’s past. I love this, and think it’s a great way to both foster a sense of continuity in craft’s history as well as introduce readers to the ACC’s incredible library (which is open to the public).

The new “Hunting & Gathering” section follows, bringing us a collector’s story (always intriguing reading). And last but not least, “The Wide World of Craft” offers an overview of the totally cool craft scene in Sydney, Australia, complete with pull-out guide. Nice!

The new font, while much more “seriffy” than we may be used to in contemporary magazines, is at least interesting. I’m not sure if I love it, but it does lend a sense of new identity and expresses the magazine’s willingness to try something unexpected. It looks almost avant-garde, though in fact is the digital reincarnation of a hand-drawn 18th century Dutch font. And the paper stock is FSC-approved – green is good.

Taken on the whole, the new magazine reflects a keen interest in presenting new ways in which to consider not only American craft but CRAFT itself. It also makes a strong case for the notion that American craft today is large and flexible enough to contain a plethora of different aesthetics and approaches.

Moreover, today it makes sense for American craft to be considered within a global context as well as to look at international craft from an American perspective. We undeniably exist in a global era, and what constitutes “American” can no longer be defined by maps.

Critics may question some of the new choices, and the magazine will likely undergo some tweaking before it settles into its new format. But that’s all great. It reflects a more important thing that this re-launched magazine has to offer craft, especially American craft, at large: DISCUSSION. People are talking about this magazine. People are asking questions. People are elated and disconcerted and everything in between. It is creating heat and a sense of change (I’d call it renewal) in the craft community. And that is something the American craft world needs if it wants to be vital and relevant in the 21st century. It’s something we all need if we want to grow.

In “Song of Myself,” Walt Whitman wrote, “Do I contradict myself? Very well then I contradict myself, I am large, I contain multitudes.” Isn’t it so for each of us? And then why not also for CRAFT? The new American Craft magazine isn’t afraid to tease and explore the edges and contours of craft even if it means risking criticism and confusion. And while that may present challenges to our presumptions and even our identities, it may be the only way in which the American craft world will be able to evolve.

Click here for a virtual tour of the new American Craft. Also available on newsstands. Or pick up a free copy (while supplies last) at Greenjeans.

Posted by Amy Shaw.
Images (top to bottom):
1) First cover of new American Craft (Oct/Nov 2007)
2) Cover (Dec 06/Jan 07) - after Wagner and Abbick joined the team, but before the relaunch
3) Cover of Craft Horizons featuring Beatrice Wood (Aug 1945) sourced here
4) Cover (Dec 05/Jan 06)
5) Cover of Craft Horizons (Jan 1952) sourced from this awesome blog here (Cathy of California)
6) Inside the new issue sourced here

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Warm Scarves for Cool Evenings

Fall seems to have finally decided to grace us with her presence in Brooklyn! The air is cooler and jackets and scarves are coming out of the closet. And the trees are juuuust starting to show a hint of yellow at the tops.

Perfect for the season, we are offering some very special scarves at Greenjeans this fall for women and men. Designed, cut, and sewn one at a time by Hiroko Kurihara in Oakland, CA, these scarves have so much attention to detail and aesthetic value I cannot imagine ever tiring of them. Plus they're warm and soft, made from 100% boiled virgin wool.

More than that, for each scarf we sell Kurihara makes a scarf from recycled polar fleece to donate to the women's shelter here in Park Slope. Kurihara makes amazing blankets, too, and similarly donates a blanket for each one we sell. It's called the Blanket Shares Project and it is quite inspiring, and makes the scarves extra warm!

I have some of the scarf designs available here in the Online Store, so have a look! (And yes that's me modeling, since Jae refused...)

We still have a few of Brooklyn weaver Susan Weltman's beautiful, colorful scarves and throws as well, which are also great for the cool days and chilly nights. Come in to see them!

Happy Fall!

Stay tuned: tomorrow I will (finally!!) post my review of the newly re-launched American Craft Magazine.

Posted by Amy Shaw
Photos by Jae Kim

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Beautiful Images of Richter's Cologne Cathedral Window

"...[V]isualizing the whole thing was impossible. There is a huge difference between a translucent color and a color that is printed."

Indeed, Mr. Richter. News of Gerhard Richter's stained glass windows for the Cologne Cathedral has already made the rounds, but until tonight I'd only seen one very flat printed picture of the window.

Tonight I found this excellent video of the project on and took the screen shots here to share with you. It is really something quite beautiful, and as the artist says in a clip of the press conference in the video, this isn't something that happens every day. (When's the last time you can remember a stained glass window making the news?)

And talk about extreme craft. I wold love to see a video of the making of this monumental piece. I wonder how they were able to produce so many different colors. I wonder how they installed it.

Be sure to have your computer volume on when you watch the video. There's some ethereal choral music happening in the background about 1/2 way thru!

Posted by Amy Shaw.
Photos: screen shots from sourced here.

Greenjeans Quoted in MJSA Journal

A few months ago, Suzanne Wade interviewed us for a piece about running a values-led business that appears in the latest issue of the MJSA Journal.

After describing the business model that led Ben & Jerry's to incredible success (an omen for us I hope!!), she offers our point of view on how we run a small business while maintaining our commitment to sustainability and community.

A sample: "We believe capitalism can be used in the service of changing the world, an in our own small way, that is what we're trying to do... It's not just about being environmental or buying everything recycled, but knowing why you're buying the things and knowing something about them."

She goes on to share the experiences of Columbia Gem House, which is working to supply gemstones to the industry that are sourced from mines using fair and safe labor practices. "I don't know any consumers out there who would say I'd rather save $5 [even if that means] trashing rivers in Africa and having a 13-year-old cutting the stone," says Eric Braunwart, CGH President. She also writes about Sumiche, a socially responsible jewelry studio in Eugene, Oregon, and their source for precious metals, Oro Verde.

It all starts on p. 44 of the October issue!

Thanks for including us in your story, Suzanne!

Greenjeans Gazette & Customer Survey

The latest issue of our monthly e-newsletter newsletter, the Greenjeans Gazette, is up! Read it here, or subscribe to it here.

I have also created a customer survey to learn more about what you think of Greenjeans so we can better serve you. Please take a moment to fill it out. Completed surveys will earn you 15% off your next purchase! Click here to take it.

Thanks for reading and giving us your valuable feedback!

Friday, October 05, 2007

Blogging the Handmade - Links & Tips from the ACC Talk

As promised, I have compiled a list of links and tips from the talk "Blogging the Handmade" that Rena Tom (Rare Device) and I (Greenjeans) gave at the American Craft Council on September 20. Thanks to everyone who came out for the event, and to the ACC for asking us!

Rena and I got a lot of positive feedback about our talk, with people telling us that they found it helpful and inspiring. A few people even launched blogs of their own in response! You can read my recap of the talk here, or watch the short video Etsy made about it.

Without further ado:

Rare Device Blog
Obsessive Consumption
Uniform Studio
Skinny Laminx
Sapling Society
Port 2 Port
Beautiful Use
Lisa Congdon's Blog

Greenjeans Blog
SuperNaturale - craft blog kept by many contributors
Hrag Vartanian - art & culture blog kept by one contributor
Gothamist - blog about NYC
Grist - environmental blog with irreverent edge
Cai Lun - blog kept by bookbinder Dennis Yuen
Hear, Hear - blog offering "intelligence for small business"
Crafty Synergy - interviews with women in the craft biz
Craft Magazine's blog - DIY & indie craft ideas & reporting
Craft Research - scholarly blog from UK
Extreme Craft - off-the-wall blog from Garth Johnson
Furniture Society After Hours - great insights from a more traditionalist pov

+ Post regularly (daily is best)
+ Add images to your posts
+ Insert links to other blogs & websites
+ Use searchable phrases in your posts
+ Sometimes mention your own name in posts and titles
+ Establish an RSS feed (see Resources below)
+ Read other blogs and comment intelligently on them

We didn't get to this in our talk, but wanted to mention a few points here:
+ If you use an image you didn't produce, always cite where you got it and provide a link
+ If you cite another website, organization, company, etc., it's good to provide a link to it
+ If you find that someone else provides a link to your blog, it's nice to thank them by email or commenting on the post where the mentioned you

> Blogger - free blog software, great for beginners
> WordPress - another blog software
> TypePad - yet another blog software
> Flickr - upload your pictures, make sets and slideshows, share with the world
> Technorati - track who links to your blog, network your blog using tags
> Sitemeter - track how many hits your blog gets and how people find your blog
> FeedBurner - set up and RSS feed so people can subscribe to your blog
> Bloglines - use this "reader" to subscribe to other people's blogs and read them all in one place
> Google Reader - another reader

If you have additional tips or resources to add, please leave a comment!

Happy blogging!

Posted by Amy Shaw.
Photo is a film still from Etsy's blogcast.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Craft My Ride! (3 weeks left!)

Got a great idea for a car accessory? Think you can make it yourself? Then get your craft on and enter it into Toyota's Craft My Ride competition!

Toyota Scion launched this cool competition (with the super spunky name) last month and asked us to serve as judges and help promote it.

To enter Craft My Ride, create a fabulous handmade car accessory for the Toyota Scion and follow the instructions on their website to enter it into the contest by October 22.

Top prize is a brand new 2008 Toyota Scion -- not bad! Second and third place winners receive a cool $1000 and $500 respectively.

Knitted steering wheel covers and hooked floor mats are only the beginning. How about a bunk bed for you dogs in the back seat? Dovetailed wooden organizers for the trunk? Fresh and funky multicolored rims? The possibilities are endless!

Entries will be judged based on creativity, usefulness, and marketability. To learn more, visit

And good luck!

Posted by Amy Shaw.
Photo of Jae stylin' the promo materials by Greenjeans.