Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Highlights from First Annual Maker's Market

The first annual Maker's Market set up shop in Long Island City, Queens, this past weekend (June 27-28, 2009). I visited on Saturday early afternoon, before the hail storm and after the minor typhoon that accompanied Friday night's opening party. Despite the Woodstock-worthy mud (which, while rough on the exhibitors, this visitor would take over a convention center ANY day), it was an impressive, enjoyable event with great future potential.

The event was presented in Socrates Sculpture Park by Manhattan design gallery R 20th Century, the LIC-based Noguchi Museum, and American Craft Magazine (via editor Andrew Wagner before his move to ReadyMade).

About 30 galleries and individual designer/craftspeople from across the country set up booths under three huge white tents placed throughout the park. It incorporated beautifully with the "State Fair" exhibition on view there now. A complete list of exhibitors with links may be found here.

While not perfect, this show points the way toward a more up-to-date craft fair model with simultaneous attention to craftsmanship, design, and what I'd call curatorial character. Highlights for me included:

Emerging glass artist Thaddeus Wolfe (no site, email thaddeus_wolfe [at] hotmail.com). Wolfe's head vases are pictured at top.

Looking into a tent featuring Brooklyn furniture maker Palo Samko's work in the foreground.

I love the Dumbo-based gallery Spring and was happy to see their booth crowded with supportive visitors. Those are Richard Saja toile pillows at lower left.

Nice pod-shaped chairs (by ??) in R 20th Century's inviting booth find appreciators of all ages.

I love the loft-living vibe of this illuminated concrete wall (that can be constructed at any scale) by Tom Winters Architect.

Barn affecianado that I am, I couldn't help but notice the post-and-beam construction of the booth mounted by hivemindesign. It was great to meet Ruby Metzner and Sather Duke (and new baby) and see their homey yet design-forward work in person. Brooklyn-based until their recent move upstate, the timbers are in fact the frame for a barn they'll be building out this summer.

Portland-based designer and glassblower Andi Kovel (Esque Studio) showed lively work including these drink glasses that look as though marked with lipstick. She said some people find them gross, but I love 'em.

Chairs made from beautifully but simply machined metal and light-colored wood by new-to-me Brooklyn-based furniture designer Marcel Madsen (Produce).

Conceptual, social, and aesthetic concerns imbue these handmade felted wool boots and mittens by Hope Ginsburg as part of Sponge, "a teaching, learning, and discipline-bending project."

Unexpected forms, interpretive designs, and pleasing hand-craftsmanship popped in Craig Watson's booth. I love how the pieces look and feel, but later wondered if the specialized materials Watson uses for finishing are available yet in eco-friendlier formulas.

Gorgeous and detail-rich ceramic work by Sanam Emami, whose work was on view earlier this year at Greenwich House Pottery.

Custom bikes at a design/craft fair? Oh yeah. You don't have to be a gearhead to swoon over the precision and style of New Hampshire-based Walt Siegl's handmade motercycles.

I drooled over Satomi Kawakita's jewelry too -- wedding band seekers take note!! -- but didn't get a good pic. Fortunately there are many on her website.

Here's to year one of the Maker's Market. I'm looking forward to seeing how this edgy high-end show grows and evolves in the years to come.

Posted by Amy Shaw for Greenjeans.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Afternoon Snacks!

Win a Solar Backpack

Posted: 26 Jun 2009 08:38 AM PDT

Planet Green is giving away those awesome solar backpacks all summer long! Enter their sweepstakes for a chance to win. Sure you may get lots of junk mail as a result, but it'll be "green" junk mail...

Make a Mini Oil Lamp

Posted: 26 Jun 2009 08:22 AM PDT

An easy and practical DIY project involving hotel-sized jam jars coming all the way from Pakistan. These would be neat to use outside during the summer. (Via Craftzine)

Duchamp Reloaded

Posted: 26 Jun 2009 08:16 AM PDT

The artist Ji Lee has been running around the city creating takes on Marcel Duchamp's bike-wheel-in-a-stool piece. Fun! (via CoolHunting)

The Stimulus Project at Sienna Gallery

One of my favoritest galleries on the planet, Sienna Gallery in Lenox, Mass., is opening a clever and timely show today that you should know about.

Called The Stimulus Project, it features one-of-a-kind work by 80(!) jewelry artists all priced under $500.

Sienna has posted images of some of the works on the gallery's Facebook page.

The reception is tomorrow evening, June 27, 6-9pm.

The show runs through August 25, so if you're anywhere near the Berkshires this summer be sure to check it out!

Should be a highly simulating show...

Top: Noam Elyashiv
Middle: Erin Gardner
Bottom: Harriete Estel Berman

Posted by Amy Shaw for Greenjeans.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Developing Cities Show the Sustainable Way

Environmental journalist and friend Emily Gertz has a great cover story in the new issue of Momentum magazine about cities in the global South that are applying innovative tactics to pave the way to a more sustainable future.

Here's the teaser:

"With the world population headed for 9 billion-plus by 2050, many cities in the global North are trying to confront decades of neglecting basic infrastructure. Meanwhile, billions of people in the cities of the global South have never had clean drinking water and effective sanitation. The North could learn from the “disadvantaged” cities of the South—that it’s possible to do a lot of social, economic and environmental good with very, very little."

The piece includes inspiring stories from Bahía de Caráquez (Ecuador), Medellín (Columbia), Kampala (Uganda), and Panjshir Province (Afghanistan).

I did some of the research for this article, so maybe I'm a little biased, but I think it's great and that you will too.

Read all about it right here.

Posted by Amy Shaw for Greenjeans.

Afternoon Snacks!

Gigantic Gundam Model in Japan

Posted: 24 Jun 2009 08:16 AM PDT

This one's for Jae -- someone has built a gigantic reproduction of the robot Gundam on an island in Japan. Far out. (via CoolHunting)

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Afternoon Snacks!

Video of Potters in China

Posted: 17 Jun 2009 01:28 PM PDT

Garth Johnson of Extreme Craft is in China this summer doing things like taking video of Chinese potters throwing humongous jars. Check it out!

Soul Motivation

Posted: 17 Jun 2009 01:24 PM PDT

Paul from Dude Craft meditates on what bugs him about a lot of the craft out there, and how the priority of money over meaning kills the mood.

New Book on Sustainable Design

Posted: 17 Jun 2009 01:09 PM PDT

"Don't do things today that make tomorrow worse." So demands Nathan Shedroff in his new book, "Design is the Problem." The future of design must be sustainable -- hear hear!!!

Daily Routines of Artists & Writers

Posted: 17 Jun 2009 01:00 PM PDT

Mentioned by Brooklyn Modern today, this is an engrossing blog that will inspire you to start getting up at 6am for gymnastics and painting just like Corbusier.

Maker's Market @ Socrates Sculpture Park, June 27-28

Posted: 17 Jun 2009 12:57 PM PDT

This new outdoor market launches the last weekend of June in Long Island City, Queens, featuring a fresh roster of makers in all media. Presented in partnership with American Craft Magazine, The Noguchi Museum, and R 20th Century. Should be a cool event!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Transforming T-shirts with Megan Nicolay

Got a lot of T-shirts you don't know what to do with? Then check out the just-released Generation T: Beyond Fashion: 120 New Ways to Transform a T-Shirt by Brooklyn artist, author, and friend of Greenjeans Megan Nicolay.

From refashioned clothing to projects for your home, the book celebrates "budget conscious living, self-made fashion, and rock 'n' roll recycling -- right here in Brooklyn, New York."

Megan will be at the Barnes & Noble bookstore on 7th Ave. in Park Slope, Brooklyn, THIS WEDNESDAY NIGHT June 17. to read from the new book, demo some projects, and give away prizes.

I love that if you bring your own T-shirt there will be supplies to refashion it on the spot, scissors provided!

Megan is smart and nice and awesome and we love what she does. Hope you can check out her book and meet her! Her full book tour schedule is below, and much more info is on the website www.generation-T.com.

Official launch:
June 17 @ 7:30 pm

B&N Park Slope
267 7th Avenue at 6th Street

June 20 Philadelphia (Doylestown Bookshop @ 3 pm)
June 24 Cincinnati/Dayton (Books & Co. @ 7pm)
June 25 Minneapolis/St. Paul (The Bookcase of Wayzata @ 4:30 pm)
June 26 Chicago (Skokie B&N @ 7:30 pm)
June 29 Austin (BookPeople @ 7pm)
June 30 Phoenix/Tempe (Changing Hands @ 7pm)
July 1 Denver (Tattered Cover Colfax @ 7:30)
July 20 Portland (Powell's Burnside @ 7:30 pm)
July 21 Seattle (Ravenna Third Place Books @ 7:30 pm)

Congratulations, Megan!!

Posted by Amy Shaw for Greenjeans.
Image sourced here.

Monday, June 15, 2009

What Bottom Line? - Etsy as "False Feminist Fantasy"

Another flare-up of "Etsy pro-and-con" has appeared online, raising once again the issue of how we value handmade and DIY and the issue of making money vs. pursuing personal fulfillment. This time the battle was sparked on Slate's female perspective blog double xx and taken up by the cheeky blog Jezebel.

The piece on double xx by Sara Mosle argues that Etsy is peddling a "false feminist fantasy" that women can quit their day jobs and make a living selling their handmade wares on Etsy.com.

She writes, "There’s just one fly in the decoupage: There are virtually no male sellers on Etsy. If the site is such a great way for anyone to market handmade goods online, then why is it such a female ghetto?"

"In other words," she continues, "what Etsy is really peddling isn’t only handicrafts, but also the feminist promise that you can have a family and create hip arts and crafts from home during flexible, reasonable hours while still having a respectable, fulfilling, and remunerative career. The problem is that on Etsy, the promise is a fantasy."

Focusing on the issue of how much money the average Etsy seller stands to make for their efforts, she continues "There’s little evidence that most sellers on the site make much money. This, I suspect, explains the absence of men." She also hits on the issue of how Etsy encouraged deflated prices for handmade work.

I agree with much of Mosle's perspective -- it isn't easy to make money on Etsy (unless you're a stakeholder in the company, in which case you're probably doing pretty well). At the same time, it isn't easy making money with any small business venture, but I think her essentially beef is with Etsy's marketing strategy.

Many readers have left comments disapproving of the way Mosle ignores other values at work on Etsy -- values of having more time to spend with your creative life and (often) your kids, having control over your work environment, finding more personal fulfillment, connecting with a larger community of like-minded people.

But I don't think Mosle is really interested in these non-monetary values. She is more interested in the traditional fiscal bottom line and the fact that the male-dominated stakeholders in the company are making money off of selling a myth to women who want it to be true so much that they go ahead and open Etsy shops. If these shops generate less money than they do new contacts and a sense of community, I guess that for Mosle would be, excuse me, the boobie prize.

The problem with Mosle's article as I see it isn't that women are being sold a false bill of sales by Etsy -- for after all, no matter how it markets itself Etsy is just a tool, like a crochet needle or a letterpress -- but rather that Mosle can't remove herself from a traditional male perspective of the world enough to see that there is more than one bottom line, more than one value system, and more than one way to find fulfillment in one's work.

Many women, and increasingly men, seek more flexibility in terms of their work and their time. A recent book called Womenomics written by two prominent women in television broadcasting addresses this issue of the demand for a more flexible workplace, and the success of Etsy I'd say very much reflects this demand, whether or not it delivers.

Commenter ohdaisy reflects this problem writing, "I'm not that familiar with Etsy but I'm disappointed to see, once again, the silly idea propagated that "meaningful" work really equals drudgery, and that the arts aren't good enough."

Fivelittlegems concurs: "I am setting a much better example for my 5 children by being at home with them, having jewelry parties, going to shows, posting on etsy and working very hard at SOMETHING I TRULY LOVE AND MAKES ME HAPPY rather than the dismal 8-5:00 high-paying but low personal satisfaction corporate drone job i used to be at."

So who's right? Lured by the heat of this issue, two writers redress the piece on Jezebel.

Sadie: "[D]oesn't it seem like she ignores the fact that Etsy functions as a community as well as a selling site? If one reads the boards, it's clear that Etsy is a real support network and intellectual forum for any number of like-minded people."

Megan: "Mosle's piece attempts to convince women not to take a relatively risk-free wade into the entrepreneurial waters of the American marketplace because they'll 'fail,' as though economic failure is something with which women cannot or should not be expected to cope."

Sadie: "[The article] fails to acknowledge that it might be, not just a source of modest income for those affected by the recession, but a means of empowerment in a demoralizing market."

I think it's a good thing to question Etsy (or any company) and to be critical of the buying and selling of dreams. And this debate over Etsy will go on and on.

But here's another bottom line: "I'd rather by stuff made by consenting women than by sweatshop workers. Maybe it's just me." This comment, posted by save jinger, kind of sums it up for me.

Now, about those crochet needles made in sweatshops in China...

Posted by Amy Shaw for Greenjeans.
Hat tip to Steph C.
Image "Utera Maxima" by Etsy seller Vulva Love Lovely.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Disappearing for a Long Weekend

Just wanted to let y'all know there won't be much (or any) action on the blog until next week, as I'm heading up to NH with Jae to visit family for a long weekend.

I'm hoping to get to eat at the Shaker Table Restaurant while we're up there. It's an amazing restaurant -- all local foods and Shaker-inspired dishes -- connected to Canterbury Shaker Village. We actually had our rehearsal dinner there back in 2005 (and that's my Dad making a toast in the picture). I'm hoping they have fiddlehead ferns on the menu if they haven't gone by yet!

Enjoy with weekend!

Posted by Amy Shaw for Greenjeans.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

No Frosting!

There isn't a lot of levity on the retail scene these days, so I was delighted to notice the amusing return policy at our local computer supply store, Mikey's Hookup.

A good reminder that especially in tough times we need to keep a sense of humor!

Posted by Amy Shaw for Greenjeans.

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Afternoon Snacks!

An "Old School" Craft Maven Visits Renegade Craft Fair... & Likes It!

Posted: 08 Jun 2009 05:23 PM PDT

Read American Craft Magazine interim editor Janet Koplos' personal take on her experience visiting this indie fair in Brooklyn for the first time.

Sharecropper: NYC’s Micro-Farming Public Art Project

Posted: 08 Jun 2009 05:09 PM PDT

I'm interested in this project, urban gardening being a favorite thing. Will blog more as the project goes on.

Wooden USB Memory "Sticks"

Posted: 08 Jun 2009 05:03 PM PDT

Hello Craft highlighted these cheeky USB memory sticks fashioned from.... sticks! By woodtec, they're $62 each thru Etsy.

Search for Air France Plane Reveals Oceans Garbage

Posted: 08 Jun 2009 04:57 PM PDT

Why to stop buying -- and throwing out -- plastic. (CNN via Haute*Nature)

Monday, June 08, 2009

Review: Renegade Craft Fair, Brooklyn 2009

I was very impressed by this year's 6th annual Renegade Craft Fair in Brooklyn's McCarren Park. The quality of work continues to go up, the crowds continue to grow, and booth displays reflect a seriousness I thought was missing in the early years of this fair. Also unlike prior years, the weather was perfection.

This big story to my eyes this year: DUDES. For a fair I've historically found to be somewhat of a third-wave feminist estrogen fest, there were many more guy vendors this year than I've seen in the past, including Dan Made Pottery and Fuzzy Ink. (Maybe the fair is going post-feminist.) This might explain the profusion of facial-hair themed work -- beards and mustaches continue to be major indie craft icons -- as well as a greater sense of variety than before. Though I must note: guest blogger Stephanie Carter began her review last year by observing "mustaches are the new owl," so this is clearly an evolving, not a new, phenomenon.

Besides beards and mustaches, the squid continue to be the unlikely animal icon of choice (Cleo Dee had some good examples), with various woodland creatures -- deer, squirrels -- a distant runner-up. And unlike the first year I attended, there were barely any owls to be found (except in Mat Daly's booth, 'cause he designs the Renegade Craft Fair posters which almost always features an owl). There were also plenty of cute-ugly stuffed animals, and in a way this make-an-ugly-thing-cute strategy is what all the squid and beards are about, too.

"The 80's" was another evident aesthetic theme, showing up in Seibei's old-school video game imagery and RHLS's remixed spandex clothing. Overall, fashion design at Renegade has (mercifully) expanded well past the realm of screen-printed tees.

It was a huge show with some 250 exhibitors arranged around the park, and I felt bad for the vendors who weren't in the main loops -- there were some spots very easy to miss. Some might say the organizers should have been more selective, but I kind of liked the overwhelming turnout and variety of vendors.

The crowd also showed more variety than I remember in the past. Sure there were plenty of "hipsters" showing us what the cool kids are wearing these days, but there were plenty of style civilians there too, including an influx of yuppies who live in the new condos surrounding the park, and others who may have entered the fair from the street fest taking place on Bedford Ave. Based on appearance of attendees, it seems the indie craft fair is feeling more accessible to the masses. A good thing.

Now, I'm not sure how much actual business was happening -- while I saw a lot of enthusiastic browsing, I didn't see a lot of transactions taking place or shopping bags in hand. But the vendors I spoke with had pretty modest expectations for this year, and I hope everyone did at least ok. (Jae, visiting the fair for the first time, noticed the abundance of screenprinted tees and commented, "You know who's really making money on this fair? American Apparel." Ugh.)

Another thing I didn't see much of: laminated tear sheets from magazines and blogs featuring a vendor's work stuck all over their booth like so much flypaper (which I criticized in 2006). This is an improvement because it makes the work and the booth speak for itself. It also suggests an increasing confidence on the part of vendors and buyers alike to not need the "approval" of mainstream media to be desirable or valuable.

To see all my pics, click here. (You can view pics as a slideshow by clicking the link at the upper right when you get there.)

Previous Greenjeans coverage of Renegade Craft Fair in Brooklyn:

Posted and images by Amy Shaw for Greenjeans.

Friday, June 05, 2009

Reflections on Blogging after 660 Posts

It's a rainy Friday in Brooklyn, but this weekend will be bright and sunny for the Renegade Craft Fair in Williamsburg!

I'll be checking it out probably on Saturday, and I'm brainstorming ways to cover it for Greenjeans Blog a little differently this year, perhaps by polling visitors or something. I'm finding that just taking pictures of vendor's booths I like is getting a little stale, and am looking for new ways to blog about craft shows.

This is part of my recent reflection on how to revamp and reinvigorate Greenjeans Blog. After 660 posts (!!) I am starting to want a little more out of my blogging experience. Since I no longer have the shop to talk about I've been feeling a little adrift as to the purpose of the blog.

I'm nevertheless very passionate about craftsmanship, sustainability, and conscientious living, and so want to find new ways to blog about those issues. I am also increasingly interested in businesses based on handmade products, and not just craft galleries. From small-batch Brooklyn-based chocolate producers to celebrated Parisian couturiers, I'm interested in how the handmade makes a living and shapes our physical and culinary world.

Part of my blog-renewal effort is to rebuild on a new platform by switching to WordPress from Blogger. (WordPress is more sophisticated and allows more user design and layout control.) By rebuilding the blog I think I'll be able to prune dead bits and encourage new growth. Will be launching this later this summer.

Now, as many of you know, I've been tossing around the idea of changing the name of the blog, and after a great deal of back-and-forth, I think I'll keep what I've got. I decided this at the ICFF when I noticed vendors greeting me with "Hey there, Greenjeans!" Well shoot, if it ain't broke don't fix it, right? So I'm just going to keep my alternative name in my pocket for possible future application (like a new space!)...

As for blog content, there are a few features I will keep and hopefully expand. I love doing exhibition, book, and film reviews. I love visiting artisan's studios and doing Virtual Studio Visits. I love writing short essays. And I love sharing pictures of interesting new work at craft and design shows.

In addition, I think I'd like to do interviews not only with artists but also with curators, writers, gallery owners, and other professionals in the community. Basically, I'm wanting to get more involved with the various intersecting communities participating in the craft world, and hope that with some strategic planning and organizational brush-ups the new Greenjeans Blog will be leaner, meaner, and more fun and informative for all of us!

If YOU have any suggestions for how I could improve Greenjeans Blog, please leave a comment!!

Thank you for reading!

Posted by Amy Shaw for Greenjeans.

Afternoon Snacks!

Things That Look Like Other Things

Posted: 05 Jun 2009 10:01 AM PDT

I'm loving this new blog by Murketing's Rob Walker.

Melted Polyester Fleece Chairs

Posted: 05 Jun 2009 09:53 AM PDT

I appreciate the attempt to reuse plastic, but this chair is UGLY!!! (Via Inhabitat)

World Wildlife Fund Builds Carbon Neutral Headquarters

Posted: 05 Jun 2009 09:52 AM PDT

Beautiful. (Via Inhabitat)

Waterpod, the Floating Biosphere

Posted: 05 Jun 2009 09:46 AM PDT

This is one souped up houseboat! It's ready to launch from the Brooklyn Navy Yard. (Via Gothamist)

Skateboard Deck Chair

Posted: 05 Jun 2009 09:40 AM PDT

I love skateboards and stuff made from old skateboards. This was spotted at Maker Faire. (Via Craftzine)

The Knitting Orchestra

Posted: 05 Jun 2009 09:39 AM PDT

Something interesting and different out of the UK. (Via Craftzine)

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Kapow! Table Fights at Magnan Projects - NY Design Week 2009

Part cock fight, part roller derby, and all serious embracing of absurdity, Table Fights are my new favorite spectator sport.

On May 16 (during NY Design Week), I joined a crowd of other curious spectators in a gravel yard under a blue tarpaulin out back of Magnan Projects in Chelsea to witness what seemed so absurd I couldn't resist coming to check it out.

Evidently, there are some in our community who enjoy automating old tables and fitting them with remote-controlled elements designed to decimate other tables. I believe it all started at RISD last year.

At this recent match, a dozen or so tables and their operators convened to punch, push, whirl, and roll their opponents into the dustbin of history. It wasn't quite as dramatic as I'd hoped -- the two matches I stayed for were funny but not exactly action-packed (as they sometimes are, if these videos are any indication). But I would definitely go again!

The tables awaiting their turn in the ring.

Last-minute adjustments before the fight.

A table and its operator get ready to rumble.

This table operator showing us what one wears to a table fight. (Her table won -- see next picture.)


The crowd, lubed on keg beer and salami pinwheels, takes it in.

Another punching table makes contact.

If you want to see more, again there are some, ahem, killer videos here. Enjoy!

Posted and images by Amy Shaw for Greenjeans.

Afternoon Snacks!

Coverage of Maker Faire

Posted: 02 Jun 2009 11:19 AM PDT

CRAFT zine's blog covers this enormous convergence of makers in Austin.

Radical Jewelry Makeover

Posted: 02 Jun 2009 11:15 AM PDT

This "traveling community mining and recycling project," is now going into its fourth incarnation in this two-week workshop at Penland School of Crafts in North Carolina. Donate your unwanted jewelry, or buy the results! (Via American Craft Magazine)

Model Citizens at Exit Art - NY Design Week 2009

During Design Week 2009 (which centers on the International Contemporary Furniture Fair), a great satellite show took place at Exit Art.

Called Model Citizens, the show featured work by some 30 independent designers committed to building a sustainable business community. Here are some highlights:

The (mostly young hip) crowd mingles and peruses.

Discovering the Egg Bench by Grace E. Chen. (No website.)

Ceramic sacks by Zena Verda Pesta.

Tea tables cum see-saws by Kandice Levero (Non e Justo). The video on the website is really cool.

Bomb lamps and gun cabinets by JGreen Design.

Paper plate lamp and installation by Nathan Thomas Studios.

More crowd. Place was packed. I didn't stay long. But the vibe was very exciting and I'm looking forward to next year!

Posted and images by Amy Shaw for Greenjeans.