Friday, July 31, 2009

Afternoon Snacks!

French New Wave Films at MAD Museum

Posted: 31 Jul 2009 10:03 AM PDT

While I have strongly mixed feelings about the Museum of Arts and Design, I must confess my excitement about their summertime partnership with the Museum of the Moving Image to show some fabulous films in their beautiful new theater. This Sunday's double-feature: Vivra Sa Vie (Godard) and Jules et Jim (Truffaut). How can I resist??

Craft Fairs This Weekend Nationwide

Posted: 31 Jul 2009 09:21 AM PDT

Craftzine is publishing weekly lists of craft fairs as well as application deadlines. Check it out!

Gardening in a Pickup Truck

Posted: 31 Jul 2009 09:15 AM PDT

Some folks in Brooklyn have converted the back of an old Dodge into a container garden featuring tomatoes, lettuce, herbs, and habaneros. Take that, roof gardeners! (Actually, they're partnering with roof gardeners in Greenpoint, too.) (via Civil Eats)

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Weaving the Social Fabric - Goods of Conscience at ACC Salon

Father Andrew O'Connor is an unlikely fashion icon. Yet through his project Goods of Conscience, he has found a remarkable way to blend traditional weaving, organic cotton, community development, and an eye for style into a surprisingly chic combination.

As part of this year's Summer Salon Series at the American Craft Council, last week Father O'Connor, a Diocesan priest, presented his ideas about green craft to a live and online audience, guiding us all through his passionate story of preserving craft traditions and building a market for his sustainable style.

His story of is rooted in a social justice mission in a Mayan hill town in Guatemala. There a group of traditional back-strap weavers combine local, organically-grown and naturally dyed cotton with a highly unusual proprietary fiber (to undermine counterfeiting) into soft, luscious textiles in rich natural colors. (Read more about the process here.)

The lengths of fabric are weighed and then shipped up to the workshop in the South Bronx where Father O'Connor oversees a second mission at his home base, the Holy Family Church. There a small group of local artisans cut and sew the fabric, which arrives smelling of tortillas.

The finished garments are sold under the label Goods of Conscience. The artisans are all paid fair wages and the workshops are important sources of community pride and economic empowerment in both the Bronx and in Guatemala.

The finished products reflect this pride as well as the considerable skill required to produce them. Father O'Connor handed samples around to the audience to get a sense of the work, and I was impressed with the appealing designs and unquestionably high-end quality. These qualities are reflected in the prices, but as other forms of high-end craft remind us, the idea here to buy fewer high-quality things instead of lots of cheap, short-lived things. Certainly these classic yet edgy bags, jackets, dresses, and shirts are ones you want to live with, not trendy items you'll soon cast off. "Slow fashion" he called it.

When I asked Father O'Connor who designs the clothes, he said that he does. And where did he get his eye for fashion? "I grew up in Connecticut," he said with a cheeky smile. While the fabric reflects where it is made, the clothes don't fall prey to that "foreign language teacher" look so often associated with organic texture-rich fabrics.

On the contrary, it is quite Vogue-worthy, as the magazine's June 2009 shoot with Cameron Diaz attests -- those are Good of Conscience shorts she's wearing. He has started partnering up with the socially-minded fashionista Alabama Chanin on some projects as well.

Early on in his talk, he spoke of the notion that there may be a silver lining to the current economic downturn: the fall of the "egoistic consumer" and the curbing of over-consumption makes us focus on the resources we have ready to hand. Our modern sense of displacement and weakened sense of homeland might be repaired if we can get back in touch with the local and "make amends with the earth." He explained his point of view that green is communal, and that if don't want to imperil the earth, then we care about the actions of others as well.

Cultivating slowness. Craft as instinctively green. Teaching vanishing skills to the next generation. Making effort every day with every decision to live conscientiously of the environment and the social fabric. These are the lessons of Father O'Connor's work. The world is the better for his vision and the example he sets for how business can be done.


Bamboo Bikes - Find out how some socially-minded innovators are creating a new model for social entrepreneurship and development, using craft, DIY techniques, and natural resources.

Wednesday, August 12, 6:30-7:30 p.m., reception to follow
American Craft Council
72 Spring Street, 6th floor, New York, NY 10012.
Reservations are required and space is limited.Price: $10; $5 for students with current ID, Free for ACC members.
To rsvp, contact Kate at or call (212)274–0630 x272.

Posted by Amy Shaw for Greenjeans.
Image sources: top, middle, bottom.

Afternoon Snacks!

Mad Men Yourself

Posted: 29 Jul 2009 08:36 AM PDT

I am a HUGE fan of Mad Men, and love this silly little feature they've created where you can make a Mad Men icon of yourself. So fun!

Monday, July 27, 2009

Afternoon Snacks!

Giant Log Pencils

Posted: 27 Jul 2009 08:18 AM PDT

Artist Jonna Pohjalanien made these "colored pencils" from fallen aspen trees. This reminds me of how I always want to make art in the woods around my Dad's house in NH... (via Dude Craft)

Pictures of Arctic Ice Melt

Posted: 27 Jul 2009 08:13 AM PDT

Pictures say 1000 words about global warming. These are pictures the Bush Admin. kept classified. Just released. (via Stop Global Warming)

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Inspiring Embroidery by Amy Powers

As someone who is (slowly) getting into self-taught embroidery, I was inspired by this sampler by Amy Powers. Just had to share with you all. (via Craftzine)

Posted by Amy Shaw for Greenjeans.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Afternoon Snacks!

    The Passing of Otto Heino

    Posted: 22 Jul 2009 08:12 AM PDT

    The celebrated potter of highly sought-after work passed away last week at the age of 94. He is remembered with characteristic cheek here. (via Extreme Craft)

    Best Made Co. Axes

    Posted: 22 Jul 2009 08:01 AM PDT

    It is amazing stuff like this that makes me really miss having Greenjeans! These axes are handmade in Maine the old fashioned way, then painted up pretty by some designers in New Jersey. Rad. (via Cool Hunting) PICTURED

    Amanda Wachob Tattoos

    Posted: 22 Jul 2009 08:00 AM PDT

    Atonal tattoos. Nice. (via CoolHunting)

    Wal-Mart Launching Sustainability Index

    Posted: 22 Jul 2009 07:56 AM PDT

    The retail giant started auditing all its products with a 15-point survey covering "everything from a manufacturer's greenhouse-gas emissions and location of factories, to water use and solid waste disposal." Should be up and running for consumer use... sometime in the future. Interesting. (via Grist)

    Monday, July 20, 2009

    Craft for a Sustainable World at the American Craft Council

    This Wednesday, July 22, the third season of the wonderful Summer Salon Series returns to the American Craft Council.

    This year's theme -- Craft's Contribution to a Sustainable World -- is very much up my alley and I'm very excited about what the Craft Council's education department has on tap!

    Wednesday evening's program features Father Andrew More O'Connor (pictured), a visual artist and Diocesian priest in the Bronx, who will discuss his innovative project, Goods of Conscience, which employs Guatemalan Mayan weavers to sew apparel collections that "look good, feel good, and do good." His talk will focus on the role of the handmade in social and environmental stewardship.

    The second of this year's two-part Salon Series takes place August 12 and presents Marty Odlin and Justin Aguinaldo talking about the amazing Bamboo Bike Project in Ghana.

    Hope to see you there!

    Wednesday, July 22
    6:30-7:30 p.m., reception to follow
    American Craft Council
    72 Spring Street, 6th floor
    New York, NY 10012

    Reservations are required and space is limited.
    Price: $10; $5 for students with current ID.
    To rsvp, contact Kate at or call (212)274–0630 x272

    Posted by Amy Shaw for Greenjeans.

    Wednesday, July 15, 2009

    Afternoon Snacks!

    Making Biodiesel from Garbage

    Posted: 15 Jul 2009 08:59 AM PDT

    I don't blog about biodiesel much, even though it's one of my favorite topics (make-your-own fuel? Hell yeah!). Some smarties in Spain have worked out a way to add bacteria to urban waste to produce fatty acids that can be used to produce biodiesel. It may not be perfectly calibrated yet, but I like the direction they're taking there at Ecofasa. (via Haute*Nature)

    Find Indie Fabric Stores Online

    Posted: 15 Jul 2009 08:48 AM PDT

    Wish you didn't have to shop at chain stores for your fabric shopping needs? Check out Project 95, the new searchable database for independent fabric stores, now live in beta at Nice work, folks!!! (via Craftzine)

    Desk Lights Made from Old Pipes

    Posted: 15 Jul 2009 08:44 AM PDT

    The Kozo light by Israeli design group Demo/design clinic. Very Wall-e chic! And you can buy from Etsy. (via 3rings)

    Fiber Sculpture by Betsy Timmer

    Posted: 15 Jul 2009 08:37 AM PDT

    This stylized, fleshy fiber sculpture owes much to Louise Bourgeois, but nonetheless finds its own voice. Really evocative. (via Hello Craft)

    Six DIY Inventions for Energy Efficiency

    Posted: 15 Jul 2009 08:36 AM PDT

    Winners of the Earthjustice/Instructables United States of Efficiency Contest. (via

    Friday, July 10, 2009

    Review: Cool Felt at Cooper-Hewitt

    I didn't fully appreciate how incredibly versatile a design material felt really is until seeing Fashioning Felt last week at the Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum. Presenting 70+ objects from a range of design and craft fields, the show celebrates the practical versatility and aesthetic possibilities of felted wool.

    While I’ve always appreciated the pleasing tactility of felt—all felt is made from wool, by definition—my favorite revelation is how much felt is almost like a natural plastic. As one bit of text mentions, felt has "a versatility rarely found in other materials—it can be made flexible and translucent or very dense and hard; it can be cut without fraying and molded into three-dimensional forms. Felt also provides protection against extremes of temperature and is naturally water repellent, windproof, and fire retardant." Amazing.

    Indeed, it seemed strange to be going to an exhibition about felt, a material I associate with warmth and closeness, on such a hot and humid day. Unexpectedly, I found the show to be light and fresh, and it didn’t feel at all dissonant with the season.

    Known since 9000BCE (the Neolithic period), felt is thought to the first man-made cloth. There are a few examples of shepherd's cloaks, carpets, and the like to represent these earliest applications.

    Most of the rest of the show presents objects made in the last 15 years or so. Surprisingly, although already familiar with some selections, everything seems rather innovative to me -- I realize I don't associate felt with only one form of thing. Why not make jewelry from felt? Why not a chair? Why not use it for good-looking soundproofing? I suppose the many carpets and floor coverings are expected, but some of their forms are not, like perennial favorite Tord Boontje's Little Field of Flowers carpet (pictured at top.) The variety is indeed remarkable. I encourage you to visit the exhibition’s website to see many more images than those I’ve included here.

    (And if anyone wants to hook me up with some pieces of German designer Christine Birkle’s lust-worthy clothes for Berlin label Hut Up, like the jacket pictured below right, I'll be your BFF!!)

    Fashioning Felt also underscores that whether done by hand, machine, or a combination of the two, felt-making is a very physical, laborious multi-step process. As such, it is also an art and craft unto itself. We can observe this in the three videos running simultaneously along a wall that capture a variety of techniques in action. Happily, I found these videos on YouTube as well: Felt Makers in Mongolia (6:20), the Canadian industrial factory Brand Felt (4:27), and JA Felt making Palace Yurt (10:20). From machines swirling in circles to women pounding their forearms into wet fibers, the actions of felt-making are very ancient and unifying. I could watch all day, and though I myself have little urge to join in, I overheard many finding it inspiring.

    I would be remiss not to point out two major attractions within this exhibition. The first is the undulating wall built from shaggy russet-colored wool, heavy felted wool, and felt in many other stages of being (pictured at bottom). It feels animalistic, alive and breathing, and you almost want to roll your body along its mysterious planes. Dutch artist Claudy Jongstra raises her own exotic long-haired sheep to supply her raw materials, then employs enormous vats of boiling water and natural dyes from locally-gathered plants to create panels of richly-colored texture. Almost predictably, the piece is called Inner Moods and is a reflection on "felt's healing qualities."

    The second is Janice Arnold's aforementioned Palace Yurt (pictured here). Created for installation inside the museum's first-floor conservatory, it is an all-white gauzy construction of wool felted into silk, Tencel, soy, and linen to an endless array of ethereal effects. You can easily find a spot along the curving window seat to enjoy being inside while thumbing through the exhibition catalogue. It goes without saying that this would be an awesome spot for a small wedding.

    The subtext of the show is that we the need to continue and deepen our thinking about environmental, economic, and societal sustainability vis-à-vis design. "The qualities that have made felt indispensable to nomadic life resonate with today's design needs," reads one bit of wall text. I don’t need to beat this drum right now, but I hope this show reflects Cooper-Hewitt’s commitment to encouraging no design without sustainability.

    This sustainability message is underscored when one exits the show and heads upstairs to Design for a Living World. There one is surrounded by ideas for how to use sustainable raw materials in architecture, product design, and much more. A durable and apparently travel-ready show--it's very heavily built-- I hope this exhibit, developed by the Nature Conservancy, reaches many people. It's engaging for many ages, the kind of experience kids leave wanting to go home and try making something they just saw. Which is a really good thing.

    Though not a "kid's exhibition" by any means, Fashioning Felt will also interest children; I think kids would derive a lot of creative ideas and a greater appreciation of their physical world. However I would have loved to see included in the exhibition some representation of felt products made for children. With so many clever felt toys out there and the way felt is so integral to educating young children in many cultures, it would have been an appropriate and engaging component.

    When you go to Fashioning Felt, and you should go, be sure to check out the many good felt-based gift items in the design shop (which are alas not available through their webshop). Felted sea stones, colorful felt jewelry by Hisano Takei, crazy primates… you’ll just have to go see it all for yourself. Bring your lunch and sit in the museum’s fine garden beforehand. It’s a surprisingly perfect way to spend a hot summer afternoon.

    Fashioning Felt

    March 6 - September 7, 2009
    Smithsonian's Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum
    2 East 91st St.
    New York, NY

    Posted by Amy Shaw for Greenjeans.
    Images courtesy of Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum.

    Thursday, July 09, 2009

    Afternoon Snacks!

    Needlepoint Graffiti

    Posted: 08 Jul 2009 02:12 PM PDT

    Love this!! Maybe if I ever finish my first embroidery project this could come next.... (via Craftzine)

    Federal Arts Funding & the Art Economy

    Posted: 08 Jul 2009 01:39 PM PDT

    Hrag Vartanian breaks down arts funding numbers in this age of economic stimulus. Part 1 of 2. (via Art21 Blog)

    Tuesday, July 07, 2009

    Website Down! - Update, Reflections, & Invitation

    I just accidentally deleted Greenjeans website (!!!) before arranging to redirect traffic to the blog (!!!!!!)

    Luckily I'd made a backup earlier, but still! Aaugh!!!!!!!

    Just in case anyone noticed and is wondering!!

    UPDATE & Reflection:

    The webshop url ( should start redirecting to the blog here ( in a matter of hours. I didn't realize it would be so easy to delete the website!

    While I did indeed intend to take the site down today (*tear!*) and go back to my original blog-only web presence (more on that soon!), I'm a little sad that the site we worked so hard to design and build over so long is suddenly just gone!!

    At the same time, change is in the air. And sometimes change comes before we think we're ready for it. But once it has happened, it feels good, even refreshing.

    Besides, I'd rather my website go out with a bang than slowly fade away. Out-of-date websites lingering on the web are like abandoned houses.

    So, it's on with the blog redevelopment. I'm writing new copy today and playing with new layouts. Ideas about the format are evolving along the way.

    I'm again leaning toward renaming the blog, too....

    Why change the name when "Greenjeans" has recognition and many people like it?

    Because, well, why not? I've been looking for a way to refresh the blog, as well as my intentions for keeping it up, now that Greenjeans is no longer a retail concern. And I am intrigued by what it could be if I change it up...

    I will still be blogging about craft, design, art, and sustainability, but there will be a new look and host, new sets of links (including former Greenjeans artists and craftspeople), and a refreshed group of categories.


    I invite you to share your thoughts, if any, on this matter of revamping the blog.

    Should I change the name?
    What should the new format include?
    What would YOU like to be reading about here?

    Post your comments here, or email me at amy [at]

    So. Although the website is no more, a new blog is on it's way. That sounds like a good progression to me. You?

    Posted by Amy Shaw for Greenjeans.

    Friday, July 03, 2009

    Happy Fourth of July!

    I'll be taking a break for a couple days for the holiday weekend.

    While I'm away, you might like to explore the many fun and clever 4th of July themed DIY projects from Craftzine such as Carnival Games and Confetti Popper Rockets (pictured here).

    Have a great 4th!!

    Kapow! Oooh! Ahhhh!

    Posted by Amy Shaw for Greenjeans.

    Thursday, July 02, 2009

    Afternoon Snacks!

    Dumbest Moments in Business

    Posted: 02 Jul 2009 09:35 AM PDT

    Tropicana box redesign, GM's two-wheeled Puma, and more from this 2009 Midyear edition. From Yahoo Finance.

    Brokelyn: Website for "Living Big on Small Change"

    Posted: 02 Jul 2009 09:34 AM PDT

    Great source for everything cheap in Brooklyn.

    Solar Barn Built from Raw Materials

    Posted: 01 Jul 2009 05:34 PM PDT

    Hard to write a short description of this very cool barn. Just click it! (via Inhabitat)

    Wednesday, July 01, 2009

    Afternoon Snacks!

    Weird NYC Cloud Mystery Solved?

    Posted: 30 Jun 2009 08:22 PM PDT

    Emily Gertz reports on the strange ice-cream-scoop-looking clouds that appeared in the sky last Friday evening, and reflects on the journalistic problem of making direct connections between particular weather patterns and global warming. (via

    Great 1970s Macrama Ad Captures a Mood

    Posted: 30 Jun 2009 08:15 PM PDT

    You MUST check this out: Cathy of California posted this ad from 1973 targeted at the "expressive generation." It's funny how contemporary it seems to me. How does it strike you? (via Cathy of California)

    Lights Out at Bushwick's Pocket Utopia

    Posted: 30 Jun 2009 08:11 PM PDT

    This pioneering space is shuttering soon. (via ArtCat)

    Droog’s Shadylace Umbrella

    Posted: 30 Jun 2009 08:06 PM PDT

    This is delightful. Reminds me I need to go check out Droog's newish NYC space. (via 3rings)