Friday, May 29, 2009

Lily Kane Profiles Andy Brayman for American Craft Magazine

The eloquent and keenly observant Lily Kane has an engaging profile of potter and designer Andy Brayman in the new issue of American Craft Magazine. "Making the Most of the Margins" is the cover story of the June/July 2009 issue, (but if you haven't received yours yet, you can read it on the magazine's website).

Part of the piece relates how Brayman has been able to leverage commercial pursuits to finance the artistic side of his work (which I think can be a really smart biz model for artists to consider). Though successful, he recently decided to close this decal business, saying "I feel like I got away with something, but it stopped feeling creative so I became less interested in doing it."

I also love this funny passage:

"[Brayman] also has unerring comic timing and a wry ironic incantation regarding the ever-present debates about the theory and politics of craft. Asked if the error message that greets anyone following the 'theory' link on his Matter Factory website is an intentionally comic statement about his interest in theory, Brayman laughs, 'No, but that’s a great idea.'"

You can read it all at
Brayman's website is

Just have to quote this really interesting point, too:

"...Brayman is aware of the fine line between making a statement or joke with a piece and having it retain its value as a functional object. 'I don’t want to make cups with text about Darfur. Not that Darfur’s not important, but once you put that text on an object it overshadows the function. It becomes a statement, a piece of art.' "

Posted by Amy Shaw for Greenjeans.

Afternoon Snacks!

Paper Made From Recycled Banana and Palm Fibers

Posted: 29 May 2009 10:51 AM PDT

We always opted for recycled paper by the company New Leaf whenever we had printing projects to do at Greenjeans. (Shout out to Brooklyn printers Rolling Press!) New Leaf now has some cool new options to check out.

American Craft Mag at the Met

Posted: 29 May 2009 10:31 AM PDT

Interim editor Janet Koplos reviews the newly installed American Wing at the Met.

A Sink that Encourages Water Re-use

Posted: 29 May 2009 10:28 AM PDT

Interesting consciousness-raising design, hearkening back to the days of the pitcher-and-bowl washstand.

Obama's Art Selections

Posted: 29 May 2009 10:26 AM PDT

The Prez gets to pick whatever he wants from national collections of art to hang in the White House. Check out what the Obamas are selecting.

ICFF 2009 - Part 3 (Japanese Pavilion & Greenjeans Faves)

In my last installment of ICFF 2009 coverage, we take a look at the rich, atmospheric Japanese Pavilion as well as some highlights by some of our favorite designer/makers, including schools.


The Kiri Treasure Box was my favorite piece in the entire ICFF. Created by designer Eiri Iwakura from Paulownia wood, the joinery is so tight and smooth that when one drawer is pushed in, others push out from the subtle interior air pressure. The story is that when a baby girl in born in Japan, a tree is planted in her honor. When she marries, the wood from the tree is used to build a Treasure Box such as this. Beautiful.

This little bamboo place setting helps kids learn their table manners. By Funfam.

Majikiriya presented gorgeous patterns in deep but subtle colors for use as folding screens, lamps, and other applications. Love.

The color is off in this picture -- the piece isn't really so yellow -- but the form and litheness of the beechwood Hiroshima Chair was striking. Comfortable too. By designer Naoto Fukasawa.

Women in traditional dress cleaning up their booth at the end of the day.

What you can't see in this shot of the elaborate Japanese Pavilion is the airy electronic music that filled the space. Everyone was moving a little slower and more relaxed in here.


Brooklyn's Uhuru showed this sweet coffee table with a raw edge walnut top and mint green metal legs. The "stitch" joints are also in mint. Yum!

Known for her undulating wood furniture and loopy metal screens, designer Susan Woods (Aswoon) launched a fabulous line of tabletop pieces this year. I want them all!

I covet the rugs by Barcelona-based Nanimarquina. This year they presented their Global Warming rug, the surprising pop-up detail pictured here.

The Furniture Society showcased work by several Greenjeans faves including Tanya Aguiniga, Isaac Arms, and Sylvie Rosenthal, whose Perch Desk shown left was also in the 2009 Searchlight Artists Exhibition.

Amy and Brendan of SMC Furnishings take a coffee break with friends at the end of the day in the Furniture New York booth.

I love seeing student work, and the ICFF always has a good handful of booths for schools to show what's fresh and new. Cranbrook Academy of Art presented this work under the title Innate Gestures.

Students at the Maryland Institute College of Art focused on solving the problem of greening groceries in a smart and clear presentation that got a hat tip from the editors of Metropolis.

That's it for ICFF 2009! I'll be posting shortly on the satellite show Model Citizens as well as Table Fights. Stay tuned!

Posted and images by Amy Shaw for Greenjeans.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

ICFF 2009 - Part 2 (Cool Materials & Furniture Gone Wild)

In this second installment of my coverage of the ICFF you'll see some interesting materials, dramatic lighting, and my favorite crazy/unexpected finds. Enjoy!

(Part 1, "New-to-me Designers," is here.)


I recognized this gorgeous wall covering, made from pounded tree bark, as the same hanging in Zuzu Ramen in Brooklyn. It's called Barkskin and is made by Caba in Santa Fe. I think it's just delicious.

This oak flooring is heat-treated to bring out the color, then intentionally stress cracked, and then the cracks are filled in with colored epoxy resin. Here the cracks are filled with gray, but they also showed colors like purple and green. Really cool. By Mafi.

Product design company Kikkerland had a great booth built entirely from soup cans. The 3000 cans of soup were later donated to City Harvest. (Image from Kikkerland.)


Dramatic feather lights by U.K. designer Rachel O'Neill.

Lighting built from bundled toothpicks and clear plastic spoons filigreed with tiny holes, by U.K.-based designer Daisuke Hiraiwa.

Love fringe? These lights are for you. By Spain's Fambuena.


These stools are by the same Spanish company that did the zip tie chair shelves, whose name I still can't find... But these are pretty, er, cheeky!

Spanish textile company Gandia Blasco exhibited this huge knitted rug that shows off a variety of textures, stitches, and colors.

For those who take their shoes very seriously, San Francisco-based product designer Fernando Robert devised this clever Shoe Shrine.

If you can't tell what this is, don't feel sheepish. Spotted in the Italian pavilion on a slowly rotating platform, it is a chair in the form of a sheep! The metallic leather upholstery is embellished with a gold sheep's head on the green side, and the red side looks like the rump. It is unique to say the least!

Next up, the 3rd and final installment including:
- Notables by Greenjeans' Faves
- Highlights from the Japanese Pavilion

Posted and images (unless noted) by Amy Shaw for Greenjeans.

Afternoon Snacks!

Good Tips

Posted: 27 May 2009 12:29 PM PDT

The blog Wholesale Matters (from the folks at the Buyer's Market of American Craft) often offers tips, or "Small Actions." The ones posted today are particularly good -- think I'll go update my blogroll now!

Modernism and Folklore in Contemporary Graphic Design

Posted: 27 May 2009 12:21 PM PDT

The design on the cover of this book caught my eye. It's a new book called "Naive: Modernism and Folklore in Contemporary Graphic Design." It think this modernism-folklore combo is very much in play these days in the way it connects to craft movements of the Great Depression era and the 1970s. I'll have to check it out and see if my theory sticks. Available soon from Rare Device.

A Berkshires Flea Market (photos)

Posted: 27 May 2009 12:10 PM PDT

Pictures taken by my friend and culture blogger Hrag Vartanian. Flea markets are so interesting.

Handmade Typography on Hodge Podge Farm's Blog

Posted: 27 May 2009 12:02 PM PDT

I love this blog kept by artist and sewing maven Cal Patch. She just posted a picture of the new banner she has embroidered by hand for her internet presence. It's inspiring... Time for me to break out the paint samples!

George Willig's 1977 WTC Climb

Posted: 27 May 2009 11:51 AM PDT

I'm fascinated by people compelled to climb (or tight rope across) skyscrapers. I hadn't heard of George Willig before, but today Gothamist marks the anniversary of his 1977 scaling of the World Trade Center's south tower.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Renegade Craft Fair in Brooklyn, June 6 + 7

Be sure to mark your calendars, for the Renegade Craft Fair is returning to Brooklyn for its fifth annual appearance in McCarren Park!

Saturday and Sunday, June 6 and 7, come find work by dozens of over 250 independent makers from all corners of the country. This is one of the biggest DIY events in NYC, a great opportunity to buy awesome stuff, talk to indie artists and craftspeople, and check out the fab scene.

You'll find all your old faves and new discoveries alike -- here's the complete list of vendors -- so don't miss it! See you there!

Posted by Amy Shaw for Greenjeans.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

ICFF 2009 - Part 1 (Notable New-to-me Designers)

I feel I'm a bit tardy in posting my coverage of last week's International Contemporary Furniture Fair, but regardless here is the first installment of the things that caught my eye at this year's show.


I don't usually get too excited about wallpaper, but the nature-inspired designs presented by Madison & Grow impressed me. I especially liked the green mussel shell design. Their wallpaper is produced using smart, eco-sensitive materials like non-toxic inks and FSC-certified paper.

Having opened up to wallpaper (and sucker as I am for the combo of hot vermilion and cool light blue) British designer Camilla Meijer knocked my socks off. I don't know to what extent her product may be green, but it sure is pretty.

This groovy little chair by D.E. Sellers comes flatpacked. The assembly instructions are laser burned into the seat. It's not uncomfortable as a side chair and looks pretty neat. Though I can't recall if it's bamboo plywood or birch, for the literal yet aesthetic way it takes the flatpack form to a new level, I nominate it to become an icon of green design.

I liked the rolled stainless steel desk made by young designer Jason Radcliffe of Cleveland's Four Forty Steel. The well-constructed piece echos vintage steel desks and lab tables of the 1940s, but brings a freshness in its design details. Nice.

I was surprised to see the name Graypants hung on the wall of one booth, so parallel as it is to our own name. The cute, marketing-savvy boys responsible, who make these interesting hanging lights from recycled cardboard boxes among other things, named their Seattle-based company after the signature gray pants worn by one of them. Good enough for me.

Here chairs become bookshelves with the help of zip ties. I spotted these in the Design from Spain section, but can't locate the designer's info. Will post when found.

The young Milwaukee-based Misewell presented their first collection this year. With a good sensibility for combining wood, wool, and metal, the designs are adaptable and intelligently built in the USA.

I love meeting new-to-me Brooklyn-based designers, and was exciting to discover Scott Strickstein's unusual hanging lights. Made from a mesh of thickly glazed ceramic, I really like their texture and materiality. Strickstein also makes really nice table ware, including the socially-conscious "Bomb Bowls."

A group of Belgian designers presented especially high-energy furniture. I liked the colorful wardrobe, pictured here at the back, built by Maarten De Ceulaer from custom-made suede suitcases.

Evoking spinning wheels, tea tables, and bicycle wheels, the elegant, spidery, laqured maple American Gothic Table by Jonah Takagi (Atelier Takagi) held my attention for some time.

Next up, our ICFF coverage of:

- Furniture Gone Wild
- Interesting Materials
- Standouts by Greenjeans Faves
- Table Fights!

Stay tuned...

Posted and images by Amy Shaw for Greenjeans.

Sam Maloof, Influential Furniture Maker, Dies

Over the weekend we lost one of the most influential American studio furniture makers of our time, Sam Maloof.

Read about him here in the LA Times.

Posted by Amy Shaw for Greenjeans.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Afternoon Snacks!

The Case for Working With Your Hands

Posted: 22 May 2009 07:54 AM PDT

The triumph of craft? From New York Times magazine.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

A Little Quiet Recently...

Howdy, dear readers.

I just wanted to let you know that since I'm out of town this week (working at my mother-in-law's store while she's out of town, and going on a yoga retreat this weekend) I may not be posting very much.

But I have SO SO SO much to share with you! Pictures from the ICFF, Model Citizens, Table Fights, and much more!

So stay tuned, and thanks for understanding!

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Saturday SATURDAY Saturday: Table Fights!

Picked up a postcard in Williamsburg yesterday that reads in big letters: "I {heart} mean tables."

On the back it advertises Table Fights taking place this Saturday at Magnan Projects in Chelsea, during ICFF week.

"Table fights??!" Yes, "table fights." I'd never heard of it before, but I was intrigued.

Evidently, artisans around the world have been making these automated, remote-controlled tables, and they fight them. Like cock fighting, but... tables. There's video of this on their website,, but I refuse to watch it -- I want to see this for the first time in person.

The website describes "Two tables per match fight with in a 12' diameter ring with the grandeur of a prize fight and chaos of a cock fight. The event is complete with witty announcers, ring girls and boys, judges, and DJ. Gritty, absurd, and intentionally outrageous, Table Fights promises to infuse some wildness into New York Design Week."

It's so absurd sounding, but could very possibly be completely awesome. I'll let you know... and if you're hitting the ICFF on Saturday, maybe I'll see you there!

Table Fights
at Magnan Projects
317 Tenth Ave, NYC

Saturday May 16, 2009
6:00pm - 9:00pm

Posted by Amy Shaw for Greenjeans.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

ACC Conference in Minneapolis - Join the Force!

Are you interested in the issues and debates circulating in the craft world? Would you like to meet different people from every corner of the craft community and share ideas? Looking for some craft-flavored inspiration, stimulation, and motivation?

Then book your tickets for Minneapolis and join the hundreds of makers, educators, curators, writers, dealers, and enthusiasts convening for the American Craft Council's conference this October!

Creating a New Craft Culture will take place October 15-17 at the Radisson Plaza Hotel Minneapolis.

Speakers include:

- Richard Sennett (The Craftsman)
- Faythe Levine (Handmade Nation)
- Garth Clark (recent lecture titled How Envy Killed the Crafts Movement)
- Namita Wiggers (curator at Museum of Contemporary Craft in Portland, OR)
- Natalie “Alabama” Chanin (designer, community activist)
- Sonya Clark (artist, chair of Materials program at VCU)
- Maria Thomas (CEO of Etsy)
- Rob Walker (Buying In and the New York Times article "Handmade 2.0")

Oh, and yours truly!

The full roster of speakers, panel topics, and the schedule (including tours) are all on the conference website.

I attended (and blogged about) the last ACC conference held October 2006 in Houston, and it was an amazing, thought-provoking, and fulfilling experience. I wouldn't miss this Fall's conference for the world!

Register before June 30 and the fee is only $350 ($150 for students). (You'll also be entered into a drawing for a free night's stay!) Fee includes all conference talks, lunches and snacks, and the closing night party. Day passes are also available. Rate goes up to $500 after 6/30.

Scholarships are available -- apply by June 1!

Rooms at the Radisson are $159/night for conference-goers.

Click here for all the details.

Hope to see you in Minneapolis!!

Posted and images by Amy Shaw for Greenjeans.
All images taken at 2006 conference:
1: Participants in the anime conference going on next door illustrated for all of us the power and possibilities of craft!
2: The crowd.
3: Andy Brayman, Alleghany Meadows, and Sam Harvey.
4: Dennis Stevens and Kiwon Wang.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Afternoon Snacks!

Abandoned Farmhouse Turned Into Dollhouse

Posted: 11 May 2009 09:10 PM PDT

This is kind of awesome, yet kind of perplexing/creepy. The back story is here: <>

True Up - Good New Blog

Posted: 11 May 2009 09:07 PM PDT

I'm loving this new-to-me blog dedicated to fabric. A huge, beautiful resource with tons of detailed info and great photos.

Brussels' Flower Carpet

Posted: 11 May 2009 08:52 PM PDT

Ooh! Aah!

Re-Construct: Eco-Friendly Crafts Made Easy

Posted: 11 May 2009 08:27 PM PDT

This how-to DVD is getting rave reviews. Starring Garth Johnson of Extreme Craft.

Objectified: A Documentary Film by Gary Hustwit

Posted: 11 May 2009 08:23 PM PDT

Anyone seen this yet?

Avedon Show

Posted: 11 May 2009 08:22 PM PDT

I forget sometimes how much looking at real photographic prints in person is so much richer and more satisfying an experience than flipping through repros in books. Plus I love fashion. So I'll be sure to catch "Avedon Fashion: 1944-2000" coming soon to the International Center of Photography in NYC.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Report from BKLYN Designs 2009

This year's BKLYN Designs was short and sweet. The 7th-annual co-production of the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce and auster*events, it presented work by 40 Brooklyn-based designers and craftspeople from May 8-10 in Dumbo, Brooklyn.

Compared with last year when the show sprawled through three buildings and one huge outdoor tent, this year the whole enchilada was wrapped up inside St. Anne's Warehouse, with two children's furniture designers set up on the steps of Jane's Carousel. (There was also a showcase of "green design" inside a high-end kitchen store, but when I went it had closed early, so unfortunately I didn't get to see this section at all.)

Highlights this year included:

Students from Pratt always have a nice spot to show their experimental work. Stand-outs this year included the very comfortable tubular steel and nylon "Through" chaise by Thomas Stern (pictured top) and the round reclaimed-sweater-covered soft "Salvation" stools by Sara Ebert (above, img sourced here).

Working with heavier timbers salvaged from old buildings and construction sites, the newly-formed RE-CO BKLYN (Reclaimed Collaborative Brooklyn) is a joint effort of Roger Benton of Benton Custom (a veteran of the Greenjeans Fall Furniture Festival held Oct. '08 at the Brooklyn Flea) and David Siegel of Boo-Coup (see below). (Img sourced here.)

Boo-Coup is using bamboo plywood and creating texture in the outer layer of the wood, then finishing it in bold crayola colors. Really fun and different.

Always a show stand-out, Uhuru (who also showed during the Furn Fest) showed their latest creation, the Standard Chair. Pairing wooden Louis XVI chair backs found at Build It Green with steel seats they fabricated in their Red Hook workshop, the chairs remind me of Stark's Ghost Chair, but updated with texture, detail, and color.

Another Furn Fest veteran Scott Behr of TMRnyc presented a line of SideWired Tables, small end tables outfitted with power outlets. Smart!

Brave Space Design presented an insanely complex hexagonal coffee table made from the triangular strips of wood removed when making the bevel on their shelves. This table is made from over 5000 pieces of wood.... (Furn Fest vets? Yup.)

It was refreshing to see Flavor Paper's colorful booth filled with their sort of nouveau baroque wallpaper designs (including two scratch-n-sniff varieties!) They are moving up to Brooklyn from New Orleans -- welcome, guys!

Eric Manigian always goes his own way. This year he showed an astonishing table made from several sections of spalted hardwood (maple?) joined together in a ring. (Note that the table is unfinished - those aren't the intended legs.)

EcoSystems, who showed flat-pack chairs last year, had a very clever piece: a dining room table that transforms into seating. These guys are definitely ones to watch.

Takeshi Miyakawa's shelving to the ceiling caught my imagination and was perhaps my favorite piece in the show.

Among the several labor-intensive, one-of-a-kind pieces shown throughout the show, the Nebu Chandelier at um's booth was especially amazing. It's made of 250 antique wine glasses in various colors, shapes, and styles, hung upside-down on a stylized aluminum rack frame. Yowza.

In the eco-friendly furniture for kids category, Casa Kids (left) and Argington (right) showed nice modern cribs that convert into youth beds, great little chairs, and good looking changing tables and cabinets.

A notable thread this year: 3-legged stools and tripod floor lamps. The stools I liked, especially um's Milking Stool (pictured). But there was too little variation among the tripod floor lamp designs for me -- it's a known fact that designers borrow from each other freely, but in this case it was a little silly to find three almost-identical lamps in three different booths.

As a final note, and as might be expected, a great deal of the furniture shown involved salvaged wood. This has become a very identifiable Brooklyn motif. We've seen a lot of the slats-of-reclaimed-wood-bonded-together look over the past few years, and we saw more of it again this year executed with varying degrees of success. It's worth noting that it appears some of the originators of this idea have moved on and are experimenting with new ways of using different sorts of reclaimed materials.

I love watching the evolution of Brooklyn design up-close, and look forward to what's to come...!

Posted and images (unless otherwise noted) by Amy Shaw for Greenjeans.