Maker Stories

Inside the Artist’s Studio with Holly Daniels Christensen

November 3, 2017

Photos by Christa Smith

There is something very nostalgic about Holly Daniels Christensen’s jewelry. Holly has collected sands from around the world, and her super talented team of artists sets them into jewelry, bottle stoppers, and snowflake ornaments, creating personalized keepsakes.

I was beyond excited to see Holly’s studio, meet her team, and see her sandbank in person. In the time we’ve been working together, her bank has grown from about 1,200 sands to over 3,000—and it’s still growing! I wanted take a peek at granules that hold a special place in my heart—Stone Harbor, New Jersey and Santorini, Greece were two that I especially was excited to see—and the sandbank definitely did not disappoint. A collection of samples from around the world, each with a distinct texture and color, her collection encompasses beach sand, sports sands (think golf courses and baseball infields), and crushed power stones.

Sharon & Mekah

Holly and her team work in a converted manufacturing building outside of Boston. The space is a designer’s dream—hardwood floors, sky high ceilings, and lots of light. Her team was warm and welcoming, and the studio buzzes with creative energy. Besides her sandbank, a highlight of the tour was seeing the very table Holly launched her business from—formerly her dining room table, now in use in her conference room.

After a tour of her space, I wanted to take a crack at creating my very own piece of jewelry. It was a tough choice deciding which sand to use, but I finally settled on Santorini, a gorgeously grainy volcanic sand with bits of white and terracotta. One of Holly’s sand artists, Mekah, led the way, showing me how to carefully place the sand within the pendant. It’s an exacting process which requires a fair bit of precision. Mekah was a super patient instructor, and within about an hour, I had made a piece of jewelry!

It was a magical day, and I’m so grateful to Holly and her entire team. Read on for a Q&A with Holly and a sneak peek into her sandbank and studio, complete with mentions of lunchtime excitement and dance parties.

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Gift Guides

Our Best Gifts for $50 and Under

November 1, 2017

Good news, super Santas! You don’t have to go broke in order to nab gifts that your loved ones will appreciate this holiday season. Here at UncommonGoods, we’ve got plenty of impressive wares priced at $50 (or less), and we’ve collected 15 of our favorites here. Whether you’re on the lookout for something edible, playable, or merely functional, we’ve got a good that fits the bill… and then some. Read on for more.

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Maker Stories

The World Through Orange-Colored Glasses: A Conversation with Stephen Kitras

October 31, 2017

Stephen Kitras in his Fergus, Ontario studio, photos by Jen Coleman

During the first week of October, I traveled to Toronto to attend the annual B Corporation Champions Retreat. (And to celebrate our 10th anniversary as a founding B Corp!) Less than a week before I was set to leave for my first-ever trip to the Great White North, I learned that Stephen Kitras, a long-time member of our maker family, owns and operates the largest hot glass blowing studio in Canada. I immediately contacted the Kitras Art Glass team with fingers crossed, hoping to squeeze in a last minute visit while on their side of the continent. A few days later, I found myself in Fergus, Ontario, thrown into the fire of glassblowing alongside artists who have traveled from all over the world to practice their craft at Stephen’s studio. Continue Reading…

Gift Guides

25 Gifts for $25 and Under

October 30, 2017

Maybe you got a jump on seasonal shopping this year and picked up presents for the family super early. Relieved, you thought you could sit back and relax until it’s time to ring in the new year. Then you realized that Secret Santa exchange is still looming. And you need something that says “thanks for your hard work” for your postal carrier. And a little surprise for the friend who’s been there for you all year. And…and…and… Your holiday list may be an unexpectedly long one, but that doesn’t mean you have to go over your budget. This collection of great gifts for $25 (or less!) is sure to help you get a handle on that holiday shopping (for real this time).

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Gift Guides

19 Creative and Clever Gifts for Kids

October 27, 2017

That phrase “childlike curiosity” is around for a reason. (If you’ve ever been on the answering end of an ongoing series of “Why?-s” you know what we’re talking about.) So much in the world is new and exciting for kids. They’re learning new things every day, their imaginations are limitless, and their creativity never ceases to amaze us grown-up types. With this in mind, we selected an assortment of fun gift ideas that are sure to keep kids interested, excited, and entertained while those little brains grow big and strong.

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Design

An Unfolding Story: The Shape-Shifting Ollie Chair

October 26, 2017

*Editor’s note: The Shape-Shifting Ollie Chair is coming soon to our assortment. Be the first to get it by pre-ordering here.

“I like creating objects that move and change and don’t always stay what they seem to be,” says Ollie chair designer Jess Banks. Transformation is everywhere you turn at her studio in the Brooklyn Navy Yard. It starts with the building itself. The jaw-dropping space of the New Lab, where Jess and her team develop their kinetic designs, was once part of a shipbuilding mecca. The space is now a high-tech entrepreneurial hub. “It’s really amazing to think of how we’re based in a place that was running because of war, and I’m allowed the freedom and luxury to create new ideas,” she reflected. This is just the sort of place you’d expect to find a chair that unfurls from a two-inch-thick rectangle of aluminum and wood tambour—and transforms back again with a gentle pull.

We visited Jess to discuss design inspirations for her shape-shifting chair, the personalities behind it, and why she doesn’t call it a “folding chair.” Along the way, we learned more about tambour and discovered why the former Comedy Central employee looks forward to buying toothpaste. Continue Reading…

Gift Guides

From Beer to Booze: Gift Picks for the Home Bartender

October 25, 2017

 

Their fridge is fully stocked with the perfect combination of craft brews and classic beers. Their wine rack is loaded with reds, whites, and maybe even a bit of the bubbly. And don’t even get them started on what it takes to mix the perfect cocktail—the glass, the garnish, whether it’s shaken or stirred—they have all of the details down. That’s right, we’re talking about the Home Bartender. Chances are, you know one of these masterful mixologists, so we’ve gathered a collection of gifts that will surely make any adult beverage connoisseur raise their glass.

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