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Uncommon Knowledge

Uncommon Knowledge: Which British Animal is More Royal than the Rest?

February 7, 2018

Before you snatch a swan from London’s River Thames to keep as your pet, consider something first. Besides getting the graceful feathered animal through customs, you’d also be stealing from her royal highness, Queen Elizabeth II. By prerogative power, the “Seignor of Swans” (aka the Queen) owns every swan in open waters within England and Wales. It’s a peculiar statute that dates back to medieval times, when the birds were considered a delicacy and served on dinner tables of the super wealthy. They don’t eat them anymore, but being the animal lover she is, the Queen just can’t let them go. She even participates in a royal “Swan Upping.” Every third week in July, Elizabeth—or rather her team of “upping” experts—gathers all unmarked swans, tags them, and sets them free. Is your dream crushed? Don’t let this stop you! Should you become close friends with the sovereign, she might grant you ownership of your own royal swan. It may be worth sticking your neck out.

Swan Slippers | $34

Maker Stories

Recreating Nature: Scott Johnson on Glass, Work, & Finding Your Passion

January 26, 2018

Here, Scott Johnson does a little pruning. (Just kidding.)

If you had no sunlight, dirt, water, or seeds, could you create a bed of flowers? Scott Johnson can. He’s the master behind our popular Glass Flower Garden Centerpiece, a stunning sculpture with multi-colored flowers “sprouting” out from the base. Scott has always loved sculpting. It stems back to his childhood, watching his father mold clay in their home. Naturally, Scott started crafting with clay, but the more he experimented with new materials, the more inspired he became. That’s when he discovered glass. He was mesmerized by the way a solid could turn to a liquid and finally into a work of art. Once he found his medium (or his medium found him), he began creating one-of-a-kind pieces to decorate your home.

We had the pleasure of speaking with Scott about his process, inspiration, and “bendy,” a trusty makeshift tool he can’t live without. Read on for more.

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Maker Stories

Coming Clean: Heather Swanepoel on Making Soap & Overcoming Obstacles

January 18, 2018

 

Heather Swanepoel and her family in her Monroe, GA store.

Monroe, Georgia is a small town with a population weighing in at just under 14,000. But even tiny towns can have big heroes. Meet Heather Swanepoel, soap aficionado, entrepreneur, and unstoppable force for good. She was spending weeks on the road and desperately wanted to fill her free hours with a hobby. When knitting didn’t work out (she could only master scarves), she turned to a soothing task she could actually master: soap making. Soon, people were lining up to purchase her all natural soaps and the rest was delightfully scented history.

“Our success attracted other businesses to Monroe with similar models, and the buying customers followed,” she says. “We won the 2016 Monroe, GA Business of the Year because of the atmosphere we cultivated in the once dying town.”

We had the pleasure of speaking with Heather about her success and how she went from on-the-go mom to superpower entrepreneur one bar of soap at a time. Read (lather?) up on her story below.

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Uncommon Knowledge

Uncommon Knowledge: How Did an Ancient King Inspire Our Word for “Wireless”?

January 3, 2018

Today, Bluetooth® means instant connectivity, like playing tunes from your phone to your speaker, or syncing a photo slideshow to your TV. But back in 940 A.D., Bluetooth was a great Danish king credited with uniting all of Scandinavia. See the connection? In 1996 the inventors of our single wireless standard (aka a cohort of totally techie geniuses) were puzzled with how to name such a brilliant, futuristic technology that would ultimately change the way we use our devices. So, instead of thinking forward, the group went back—way back—to the middle ages.

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Gift Guides

Really, Really Last-Minute Gifts

December 18, 2017

How did the holiday shopping season slip by so quickly? Just the other day you were baking pumpkin pie for Thanksgiving and now the proverbial Christmas clock is tick, tick, ticking in your ear. Don’t let those last few giftees hang over your head another day. Check out our list of “I didn’t buy this at the gas station on the way over” gifts. The no-fail, last-minute designs feel personal, fun, and not rushed at all (we promise we won’t tell!). Read on for more.

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Gift Guides

15 Ways to Give Experiences, Not (Just) Gifts

November 20, 2017

We think things make dandy gifts. After all, it’s our job to curate tons of unique designs that speak to the extraordinary individuals in your life. But sometimes, the best gifts go beyond the tangible, hold-in-your-hands item. We’re talking about the gift of experience. Below you’ll find oodles of suggestions for gifts to pair with events and adventures—like portable painting sets and art classes, soothing eye pillows and a spa day, and wine-themed card decks and a winery tour. The best part: They get to keep their uncommon good as a reminder of the special experience. Now that’s what we call a holiday win-win. Read on for more.

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Maker Stories

Written in the Flower Beds:
A Conversation with
Jo-Anne & Gerald Warren

September 19, 2017

When things align just right, we often wistfully say it was “written in the stars,” from the person we marry to what we choose as a profession. For Jo-Anne and Gerald Warren, you might say their lives were written in the flower beds. Growing up in Southeastern Canada, with its uninterrupted greenery and lush summers, the two fell in love with the earth first, and then each other.

“I was raised on an apple orchard in Hemingford,” says Jo-Anne. “We’ve both been spending time outdoors our whole lives.” Now the potter pair crafts one-of-a-kind works for your garden, like their mystical Butterfly Puddler, which attracts butterflies with evaporated minerals, and their Ladybug Castle, which features miniature passageways for polka-dotted friends. Jo-Anne and Gerald describe their backyard with detailed fondness, noting the many birds, bugs, and bees that inspire them each day.

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