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Maker Stories

Maker Stories

Diagnosis: Talent. Dr. Martin Geller’s Pet Pedigree Poems

August 31, 2017
Dr. Martin Geller, acrostic poem king

Dr. Martin Geller, acrostic poem king

 

We’re proud of offering goods made by artists and makers from around the world. But we have a special, parental pride when a design’s DNA is 100% from the UncommonGoods “family”–like our Pet Pedigree Poem items. Unique from head to tail, these items, which are exclusive to UncommonGoods, feature an acrostic poem celebrating your breed’s special traits.

We have dog pillows, mugs, totes, and art for dogs and cats—including rescue cats.

The idea to mix paintings with acrostic poems came together serendipitously, and blended the skills and talents of the UncommonGoods Product Development team, led by Carolyn Topp (Director of New Business and Product Development), and Dr. Martin Geller, a retired psychiatric physician who is the father of UncommonGoods Senior Purchasing Planner (and not incidentally, organizer of our literary book club), Louise Geller.

Carolyn tells us how pets and poems came together in the creation of these unique items.

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Maker Stories

This Just In-spiration: Meet Leah Monaghan and Barb Stauffer

August 29, 2017

Names, like looks, can be deceiving. After all, there’s nothing “simple” about the syrups that UG newcomers Leah Monaghan and Barb Stauffer create together in Columbus, Ohio. Crafted using organic cane sugar and ingredients sourced from local farms, Leah and Barb’s concoctions are all-natural, made in small batches, and, quite frankly, delicious. But that’s not all. Despite being busy moms—that’s how they met, after all—Barb and Leah have grown their business with their own two—er, four—hands, waking at the crack of dawn to get cooking, crossing state lines in the name of distribution, and hand-packing their fair share of tasty mixers, all as part of their first ever joint entrepreneurial endeavor.

When we learned of Barb and Leah’s successes (and saw what tasty flavors they’ve thought up), we knew we had to give them a welcome the only way we know how—that is, with their very own interview. We sat down on a real live phone line and spoke with the duo all about how they got started and how much they’ve grown, touching on victories, troubles, and touching mementos. Read on for more.

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Maker Stories

This Just In-spiration: Meet Dottie Boscamp

August 21, 2017

Blowing glass is no small feat, but Colorado-based creator Dottie Boscamp makes it look easy. Using traditional glassblowing techniques, Dottie handcrafts elegant, colorful goods with a unique flair, among them her Speckled Glass Olive Oil Dispenser and Rainbow Candy Dish Bowl, both items new to our assortment. Between the need to blow, shape, color, and properly cool each piece, Dottie’s glassworks require true mastery—and yet they appear almost effortlessly delicate.

Here at UncommonGoods, we like to welcome our newest makers with a quick peek into their day-to-day lives and creative histories. Read on to learn a bit more about Dottie, including her exclusive POV on what music’s best to blow glass to.

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Maker Stories

Takeoffs and Landings: A Conversation with Jerry Moran

August 15, 2017

Although we know him best for his handcrafted accessories, Colorado creator Jerry Moran is much more than just a jeweler. For much of his adult life, in fact, Jerry was a self-described “ordinary guy” working in the aerospace industry, getting up close and personal with planes—not necklaces—on an everyday basis. Now Jerry pays tribute to his beloved aircraft by crafting his goods from their disused parts, giving retired planes otherwise primed for destruction an opportunity to brighten the lives of jewelry enthusiasts and aircraft aficionados alike.

To celebrate the induction of a selection of Jerry’s wares into our growing assortment, we engaged him and his wife, Mary, in a brief back-and-forth, digging deeper into the details of what drives him to create (and how he got started on jewelry in the first place). Read on for more on Jerry’s fascinating background, including an account of the pair of earrings that started it all, plus a few words of wisdom courtesy of—surprise—rugby.

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Maker Stories

Meet Lee Ann Jones, Winner of the 2017 JCK Tucson Design Challenge

August 9, 2017

Photo by Josh Huskin

Back in February, UncommonGoods partnered with jewelry industry authority JCK on the second annual JCK Tucson design challenge, pitting emerging jewelry designers against one another in (fun, friendly) competition. After much deliberation, our panel of judges—which included UncommonGoods Jewelry Buyer Sharon Hitchcock and Paula Lee, Accessories Editor for O, the Oprah Magazine—settled upon a winner whose designs embodied the spirit of creativity and fine craftsmanship we value here at UG. Jewelry lovers, meet Lee Ann Jones, winner of the 2017 design challenge and founder of the Lee Jones Collection.

Lee Ann’s winning design.

A former lawyer turned full-time jewelry designer based in San Antonio, Texas, Lee Ann blew us away with her Diamond Fairy Dust Necklace. (Trust us, there’s been a whole lot of ooh-ing and ahh-ing over her samples here at the office.) Masterfully crafted from 14k gold, Lee Ann’s winning adjustable necklace incorporates two tiny cylinders “dusted” with diamonds, one hidden discreetly at the nape of the neck. Elegant, subtle, and—best of all—sparkly, Lee Ann’s winning piece is now available for purchase at UncommonGoods, along with her equally stunning Double Heart Diamond Necklace, which features diamond-studded hearts in place of her winning work’s cylinders.

To celebrate her win and welcome her to the UncommonGoods family, we spoke with Lee Ann about her history as a jewelry designer, what inspires her, and more. Read on for her answers to our questions, and—as a bonus—some pictures of her very cute dog.

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Maker Stories

This Just In-spiration: Meet Kelly Decker

August 7, 2017

There’s something undeniably satisfying about uncovering a bit of buried treasure, even if that only means digging up a hunk of broken dinnerware in your backyard. Thanks to Kelly Decker, though, whose Hidden Crystal Candles are now available in three scents at UncommonGoods, you don’t even have to get your hands dirty anymore. All you need to unearth a special treat is one of her long-lasting candles made from 100% American-grown soy wax (hand-poured by the maker in California), which melt down over the course of their 5o hour burn time to reveal one of three hidden stones. Each stone has its own special meaning: rose quartz, symbolizing love; moonstone, signifying good luck; or amethyst, representing spiritual growth and healing.

Here at UncommonGoods, we like to take the time to welcome our newest makers to the fold, and Kelly is no exception. Read on to learn a bit more about what inspires her—and where she keeps her own special crystals, other than tucked inside candles, of course.

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Maker Stories

Inside the Artists’ Studio with Sam Buss and Derek “Ducky” Dahl

August 2, 2017

Sam and Derek outside the industrial brick building that’s home to the Nordeast Maker Space and their studio. Photos by Marisa Bowe (unless otherwise noted)

Sam Buss and Derek “Ducky” Dahl, friends since they were in their teens, make original games in Nordeast Minneapolis, one of my favorite neighborhoods in my hometown city.

Last time I was there, I took a bus on a warm, sunny day to the brick factory building-turned-maker-space they share with other interesting firms and artists. “It’s a maze,” they warned me, “so call us when you get here.” But a friendly co-tenant told me how to find the underground, windowless space.

Given the nature of their games, all of which (so far) involve beer drinking, I expected boisterous frat types (they did meet in a frat while attending the University of Minnesota). What I found, though, was a couple of low-key, thoughtful guys.

As they talked about their history as friends and business partners, I realized what courage it took for them to quit good jobs and throw themselves into being entrepreneurs. Neither of them had any prior business experience, so their road has been full of learning experiences. A few of those— early game prototypes—are on display in their studio.

They demo’d a couple of fancy machines for me: a huge CNC (“Computer Numerical Control”) router, which precision-mills their specially-shaped game boards; and a laser cutter, which emits a little red dot—just like the one my cat likes to chase—except it can cut and engrave wood. The Nordeast Maker Space makes these otherwise-unaffordable specialized machines available to small, independent makers like them. 

It was exciting to hear how the duo are able to realize their ideas, forge their own path, and have some fun along the way. Read on to learn (and see) more.

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Maker Stories

Touch, Technology, and Giving Back: Meet John Harrison and Vanessa Whalen, Creators of the Long Distance Touch Lamp

July 24, 2017

Imagine a technology that allows you to show loved ones you’re thinking of them–not with a phone call, not with a text, but with a soft, colorful glow. John Harrison and Vanessa Whalen, a married couple looking to foster unique connections with their faraway family members, made it happen with their Long Distance Touch Lamps. With just a simple tap on the top of your touch lamp, you can illuminate another connected lamp anywhere around the world—sending a message of love without words.

Here at UncommonGoods, John and Vanessa’s lamps have proven to be a huge hit, connecting faraway friends and family members with a little bit of Wi-Fi-powered magic. Read on to hear from John about the winding path he took to get to the Touch Lamp‘s creation—from playing the violin professionally, to working as an electrical engineer, to working closely with non-profit organizations to bring his and Vanessa’s shining idea to families and friends all over the world.

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