Actor and avid canoe builder Nick Offerman once said, “How lucky my life is that I have two arms, and two legs, and ten fingers with which to make things out of wood.” Such dedication to this organic, flexible, and renewable material is nothing new. Wood has been a favorite of architects, builders, and designers for millennia. Technically speaking, it’s cellulose fibers embedded in a matrix of lignin. Unlike metals and plastics, wood is versatile, structural stuff that can be grown. Plant a seed or acorn, wait a few decades, and you can build yourself a house, a ship, or a cuckoo clock. From ancient Japanese temples to the flowing furniture of Scandinavian modernism, wood inspires an amazing variety of design. Not surprisingly, you’ll find it in many corners of our collection, where makers draw out its inviting qualities to infuse their work with natural beauty. Thanks, trees! Continue Reading…
Far, far away from UncommonGoods’ historic headquarters in Sunset Park, Brooklyn, Marylène Chauveau manipulates glass in her home studio in Wotton, Québec. A native of the French-speaking Canadian province, Marylène lives where she works, tracing, cutting, sanding, and assembling striking pieces of finely colored glass into jewelry, mobiles, and suncatchers, all while tending to her two school-aged boys.
When we first saw Marylène’s Night Sky Mobile—a new addition to our assortment—in the flesh, we found ourselves struck by its delicate, masterful construction and by Marylène’s own background as a STEM worker-turned-glass artist. Intrigued, we set out to welcome her as we do all of our most exciting new makers: with her very own spot in our This Just In-spiration series. (As you can see, she accepted the offer. And we’re so glad.)
Read on for a glimpse into Marylène’s studio, complete with the rundown on her morning ritual and a suite of pretty pictures of her fine vitraux. (That’s French for “stained glass,” FYI. And the cat above? That’s un chat.)
Last spring, we did something new and exciting. Of course, as purveyors of the uncommon, we’re always eager to try new things, but this one was EXTRA exciting, because it gave us a chance to see awesome work by talented young artists and designers from across the US. We put out a call for entries for our first-ever UncommonGoods Scholarship and more than a hundred students sent in their work. After much deliberation, we’re thrilled to announce that Lauren Waldrop, a communication design major at the University of Cincinnati in Ohio, is the recipient of our $1,000 scholarship prize.
Lauren’s photography captured the attention of our scholarship team, and we were impressed by the story she included in her submission, which highlighted her dedication to her craft, artistic process, and future career goals. To announce her win, we asked Lauren to tell us a little more about each of the areas she touched on in her entry. Check out her Q&A below, and take a look at her winning work.
Editor’s Note: Today—September 21, 2017—is RAINN Day, an annual day of action designed to raise awareness and provide education to college students about sexual violence on campus. Although we’re not exactly a campus, we’ve chosen today to pay special tribute to the Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network, better known as RAINN, with whom we’ve proudly partnered for nearly a decade. Read on for more on how you can help RAINN with one of their most urgent, challenging initiatives: addressing the rape kit backlog in the US.
Across the US, an estimated 100,000-plus rape kits sit untested in crime labs, evidence rooms, and police headquarters. Although these kits contain DNA evidence with the potential to solve crimes of sexual violence and identify repeat offenders, they remain untouched, often for reasons that are difficult to pinpoint. In a world where 1 in 6 American women (and 1 in 33 men) has been the victim of an attempted or completed rape, DNA evidence is an invaluable asset—one we can’t afford to let languish in storage. And that’s why RAINN, our Better to Give partner of seven years, needs your help.
RAINN’s work on the rape kit backlog spans years, and includes efforts to raise awareness of the issue by educating lawmakers and the general public. Still, there remains a great deal to be done in every state. Our causes page provides detailed information on the scope of the problem, with links to case studies and survivor resources and a simple form that allows you to contact your representatives directly in support of funding to address the issue.
Hadley Leary, UncommonGoods Junior Content Creator
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.
When it comes to the creative realm, Sarah Beth Elkins has done a little bit of everything, from book-binding to teaching high schoolers graphic design, but her true passion lies in one thing: clay. Now a professional potter working from her home studio north of Houston, Texas, Sarah Beth molds mounds of the pliable stuff into playful mugs, bowls, and even earrings, not to mention the lovely, lighthearted Berry Colander that’s now available for purchase at UncommonGoods.
With one look at Sarah Beth’s adorable berry bowl, we here at UG fell quickly in love with her careful craftsmanship and whimsical touch, and we wanted to give her a proper welcome to the family with her very own post in our This Just In-spiration series. Read on for our Q&A with Sarah Beth, touching on her time as a teacher, her day-to-day life in the studio, and much, much more.
Moradabad, India, is a big city. Situated on the banks of the Ramganga River, it boasts a population of nearly 900,000 and an active handicrafts industry that accounts for a significant portion of the country’s artisan exports. Though it’s best known for its brass wares, local workers craft a wide variety of goods for international distribution, from handmade paper notebooks to mosaic vases made from discarded glass. And in the atelier of Khalil Ahmed, an ironworker stationed a mere 12 kilometers from Moradabad proper, Clarissa the Curious Cat Planter comes to life.
When you first lay eyes on Clarissa, you’re probably struck by the cuteness of her little iron nose, or the artful curve of her accompanying tail. What you likely don’t realize is that Clarissa’s cuddly (if metallic) exterior does a whole lot of good beyond the obvious act of putting a smile on your face. Her creator, Khalil, is part of a growing group of local artisans that benefit from the support of an organization known as Noah’s Ark, an international export house that’s been serving the area for nearly 30 years under the watchful eye of Moradabad native Samuel Masih.