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Maker Stories

Maker Stories

This Just In-spiration: Meet Matt Pugh

May 16, 2017

Matt Pugh Artist - UncommonGoods

As a lifelong artist, it didn’t take too long for Matt Pugh to grow tired of bringing other designers’ ideas to life – eventually, he couldn’t resist the need to create on his own. After a stint as a model maker, Matt decided to take his career into his own hands and began bringing his own original pieces to trade shows, where he started to gain success and recognition.

Matt’s charming designs and his use of sustainable materials in making them stood out to us right away. We’re so glad to have his unique fixtures as new additions to our assortment. Read on to hear from the rural Wiltshire, England artist about where he gets inspiration for his quirky pieces, and what goes into making them.

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Maker Stories

Inside the Artists’ Studio with Carrie and Patrick Frost

May 11, 2017

Carrie and Patrick Frost in their Mantua, OH studio, photos by Cassie Tweten Delaney and NéQuana Rollings

“Glass is full of magic,” Patrick Frost told me as he and his wife Carrie began the tour of their Mantua, Ohio home with an introduction to their impressive collection of glass pieces from around the world.

As Patrick carefully handled one of the handmade glass objects, he explained that it was created by a master glassblower he’d trained with years before. The glassblower was very old, but after 60 years practicing his craft, he still loved his art, because he believed in the magic of glass.

Patrick said that he too is enchanted by the way glass moves, interacts with light, and almost mesmerizes. The Frosts continued to tell the stories behind many of the pieces in the collection (which takes up an entire wall and then some in their living room), and it became clear that both Patrick and Carrie are sincerely passionate about every part of the glassmaking process—from the first drops of molten material, through firing and turning and blowing, all the way up to opening the oven and seeing the cooled, finished piece for the first time.

Carrie making the Sham-Rock Glass, check out a video of the this glass getting made here

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Maker Stories

Jewelry Making in the Age of Powerful Women: Meet Britta Ambauen

April 20, 2017

If you’ve never seen a Britta Ambauen design, they are elegant, standalone works with significant range. Think: hand-hammered gold bangles and jade gemstone peapod necklaces. But look closer and many of her pieces offer an inspiring quote, like her River Bangle bracelet, which is inscribed with the Rumi quote: “When you do things from your soul, you feel a river moving through you, a joy.” It’s her hope that women can wear something beautiful, but more importantly be reminded of something special to them.

“Our thoughts are so powerful that when you revisit one over and over, it can help you manifest your goals,” she says. Currently, Britta is hooked on a necklace she made using a stone found in Arizona at her brother’s wedding last year. She laid a piece of silver behind it and etched, “This above all: To thine self be true,” a Shakespearean quote that she says reminds her to stick to her truths rather than listening to people’s judgments.

Britta’s Mama Bear Necklaces can be customized to feature all of your mama bear’s cubs

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Maker Stories

This Just In-spiration: Meet Tom Gauntt

April 12, 2017

Tom Gauntt - UncommonGoods

It’s often said that the hardest life situations can lead to some of the most creative works of art. The idea seems to have rung true for Tom Gauntt. After being dealt a difficult hand when diagnosed with an illness that restricted his physical activity, Tom decided to focus on smaller projects and tried out turning a pen on a lathe. Though his first iteration was less than perfect, he kept at it. Once he refined his technique, he started incorporating driftwood found along the nearby Chesapeake Bay and discovered that it made for truly special writing utensils.

We’re so excited to have Tom’s one-of-a-kind driftwood pens as new additions to our assortment. Settle in and read on to hear directly from Tom about the in-depth craftsmanship that goes into each one.

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Maker Stories

Inside the Artist’s Studio
with Rhonda Dudek

April 10, 2017

Rhonda Dudek in her Providence, RI studio, photos by Conor McDonough

Succulents and smiles abound in Rhonda Dudek’s radiant Providence, Rhode Island studio. Located in PVD’s West End, where creatives have transformed shuttered mills and factories into workspace lofts, Rhonda designs and assembles her nature-inspired jewelry (when she’s not traveling the country). Vintage US National Park postcards adorn a wall above an antique mail cabinet speaking to her wanderlust and goal to see all 59 of our national treasures (so far she’s been to six!).

A North Carolina native, Rhonda first came to the 50th biggest state in the nation to attend the Rhode Island School of Design. She returned to NC after school, settling in Asheville to grow her Figs & Ginger line of jewelry when she caught the attention of UncommonGoods. Ten years later, she’s back in Rhode Island finding inspiration in Providence’s historic College Hill neighborhood. The studio’s enormous windows look out on downtown Providence where the iconic “Superman Building” leaps out from the small city’s skyline. Rhonda sees the city’s history as a manufacturing center of costume jewelry as motivation to continue growing her woman-owned independent business.

I met Rhonda in her studio on one of those late winter days where a cloudless sky and bright sun give hope to the promise that springtime is just around the corner. She reflected all of that and more with an enthusiasm to match her loving and whimsical creations. Check out our conversation below to discover one of Lil Rhody’s biggest talents.

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Maker Stories

This Just In-spiration: Meet Annie Howe

March 24, 2017

Annie Howe - UncommonGoods

When you hear the words “paper cut,” it’s likely to conjure up some past painful feelings. Sorry! Allow Baltimore-based artist Annie Howe to replace those memories of ouch-moments with a much friendlier kind of papercut – her (completely painless) designs made from strategically cutting into paper.

Annie isn’t totally new to the Uncommon family–we’ve had her Love You to the Moon Personalized Papercut and Love Birds Personalized Papercut in stock for a bit, but since she has a brand new Personalized Family Papercut on offer, we figured it’d be a great time to introduce her. Read on to hear from Annie about how a hobby making presents for family and friends turned into a fun, full-time gig.

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Maker Stories

Uncommon Impact: Rachel Faller’s Ethical Fashion Company Puts People and Planet First

March 15, 2017

Rachel Faller Tonle UncommonGoods

When you pick out a shirt to wear, it’s likely you’re thinking about how it looks with your pants, or if it’s un-stained/not wrinkled enough to be passable – not the amount of water, land, chemicals, and overall carbon footprint that went into making it. You probably aren’t thinking much about who made it, either — like if the factory workers involved in its production had health insurance, or if they were working in a safe environment for a fair wage.

It’s easy to become detached from the clothes we wear, especially when, due to the expansive nature of the fast fashion industry, you can get them cheaper and easier than ever before, with just the click of a mouse or a tap on your phone. Fast fashion seems appealing at first – it adds to our convenience, and it makes a wide variety of styles available at competitive prices. But when you consider the human and environmental costs, fast fashion doesn’t seem so pretty.

Textile expert Rachel Faller took those human and environmental costs to heart when she visited Cambodia in 2007. She met artisans who had similar ideals to her and began to realize that maybe sustainability and style didn’t have to be exclusive of one another.

Recycled Fashion UncommonGoods

The Tree Rings Clutch, Infinity Tassel Scarf, and Recycled Denim Clutch are all Rachel’s designs available at UG

Fast forward to 2017, and Rachel truly has made (and continues to make) an uncommon impact on the ethical fashion world. She employs a team of artisans in Cambodia and provides them with the fair wages and work conditions they deserve. Her stylish designs are made from all sustainable materials and with unique production techniques. In fact, Rachel and her team are now at the point where their processes are completely zero-waste, making use of every last bit of scrap material.

Read on to hear from Rachel directly about how she broke into the eco-friendly fashion world,  how her clothes and accessories maintain their style without harming the environment, and how she sees the future of fast fashion vs. ethical fashion unfolding.

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Maker Stories

This Just In-spiration: Meet Jill McDonald

March 9, 2017

Aside from being a mama to the adorable pup above (as well as her human son, Luca), Jill McDonald is a talented designer and artist who has created works for top brands all over the country – think book covers, storefronts, bedding, puzzles, you name it. Always appreciating bright colors and bold illustrations, Jill decided to take her talents and create a studio of her own. We’re so glad she did, since now we have a few of her fun prints available in our assortment.

We like to welcome new members of our uncommon family by learning more about their stories and sharing those stories with you. Read on to hear from Jill about what inspires her, how she self-schedules in her home studio and the motivating phrase that keeps her going strong.

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