Maker Stories

Melissa J. Gondek’s Family Sculptures: Celebratory Symbols of Love

January 9, 2017

Family photos have the power to evoke all kinds of complicated feelings: nostalgia, awkwardness, humor, love. They grace our holiday cards and fill up our (increasingly digital) photo albums. They capture small moments that can hold big meaning when we look back on them later on. These photos have their place in our family histories for sure–but what if we could display a representation of our love that’s more tangible, less fleeting? That gets at the essential feeling of being loved, rather than a specific moment in time?

That’s where sculptor Melissa J. Gondek comes in. She says of her work: “I’m sculpting love, and everyone needs more of that.” Our customers have already fallen for her sculptures that depict the bonds we have with our cats and dogs, and so we’re excited to have an exclusive “So Happy Together” family sculpture from Melissa–one that showcases the sweetness of the ties between parents and their children.

The customizable pieces communicate meaningful messages in a heartfelt, simple package. Parents sit with their kids (you choose one or two) cozied up on their laps in a sculpture that would be equally at home on an entryway table or a mantle, in a new baby’s nursery or close at hand on your desk. They aren’t exact replicas of your family, but instead represent its loving spirit–the essence of what keeps you all connected. The universality of the figures lets you decide what “So Happy Together” means to you–whether it’s warmth, or safety, or trust–or all of those good things wrapped up into one. 

We can’t wait to get these sentimental sculptures out to you and your families, but in the meantime, read on to hear from the artist herself about how she brings unique life to the ones we hold most dear through her work.

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The Uncommon Life

Uncommon Personalities: Meet Jesse Jacobsen

January 5, 2017

Jesse Jacobsen, Purchasing Assistant

My hometown…

That sleepy, forgotten borough of Staten Island, NY just across the water from us.

An uncommon fact about me…

As a musician, I have performed in some of NYC’s premier venues, from Otto’s Shrunken Head to The Delancey (oh, and Alice Tully Hall at Lincoln Center).

The word or phrase that best describes me…

A smile on my face, a song in my heart.

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Maker Stories

This Just In-spiration: Meet Ben & Christen Aroh

January 4, 2017

Ben & Christen Aroh - UncommonGoods

It’s about time we found a fun and functional solution for all of us chronic key-forgetters. Ben and Christen Aroh, the makers of our new Wooden States of America and USA Magnetic Key Holders, met in college and have become partners – both in their marriage and in their business. Together they’ve created these homey works of art that help us hold onto our keys. Ben does the woodworking, and Christen helps to keep the business side running smoothly while also working as an elementary school music teacher. 

We know you appreciate the inspiring, motivating stories behind our products just as much as we do, so settle in and read our interview with Ben about how he and Christen have made magnetic, key-saving magic in their Louisville, Kentucky woodshop.

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Maker Stories

Inside the Artists’ Studios: A Look Back at Our 2016 Studio Tours

December 30, 2016

It’s hard to believe that we’ve been running our Studio Tours series for almost 5 years. Maybe that’s because every time I step into a another studio, I feel like I’m entering a whole new world. Over the years I’ve visited jewelry makers, potters, woodworkers, and even an industrial kitchen. And that’s just to name a few. Every time I leave an artist’s space, I feel creatively refreshed and ready to get making myself.

In 2016, I actually did get in some hands-on experience, when Jim Loewer gave our team a tour of his Philadelphia glass-working studio and let me use the torch to make own pendant. It was was definitely as much fun as you’d expect playing with fire and molten glass to be, and I now have a memento from the visit. Other adventures this year included checking out a sustainable studio made from reclaimed shipping containers, one contributor’s trip to London to meet world-renowned jewelry designer Alex Monroe, a look inside our own Product Development team’s creative space, and more. It wasn’t easy to pick just a few highlights from each Studio Tour to show you, but here are some moments that I hope spark your interest and maybe even put you in the mood to get creative too.

Laurel Begley

Laurel Begley | UncommonGoodsCreating the Faux Bois Vase | UncommonGoods

Laurel Begley’s Personalized Faux Bois Vase includes a symbol of lasting love, so it’s no surprise that she told us about some of the symbols of love an nurturing in her own life as she gave us a virtual tour of her Santa Rosa, CA studio. She also shared some great advice: “Don’t try to be anything you’re not. Do your best work, put it out there, and everything else will fall into place.” | Visit Laurel’s Studio

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Gift Guides

Gift Lab: First-Time Fermentation

December 26, 2016

Marisa | UncommonGoods
Research
Years ago, I came across Wild Fermentation, a book by Sandor Ellix Katz that turned me and millions of others onto the idea of home fermentation. I don’t remember how I came across it, or why I bought it. But I read the first few chapters and became enthralled with the IDEA of fermenting.


The book, published in 2003, made Katz a fermentation rockstar. (I’m not kidding, he really is) As for myself, as I read, I was all ready to leave Brooklyn and move to the author’s organic farm commune in Tennesee to begin my new, fermention-centric lifestyle. Because I liked the IDEA.

I successfully made delicious yogurt a few times. And I’ve made a lot of bread, though not sourdough bread.

But despite feeling totally gung-ho, fermentationally speaking, that’s as far as I went. Katz made a passionate, informed case for probiotics (and this was back in 2003, before it was a thing). Almost all store-bought sauerkraut, he said, is pasteurized, which kills the probiotics.

I wanted to make my own sauerkraut and achieve Total Gut Health. But I looked into buying a stoneware crock with a weight (to weigh the cabbage down), and for a beginner, they seemed rather pricey and heavy. I didn’t feel it was wise to commit to something like that without knowing I’d use it more than once.*

And I got stuck there. For years. Until I saw our DIY Fermentation Crock.

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The Uncommon Life

Trends We Loved in 2016

December 26, 2016

No one can say that 2016 is a year we’ll easily forget. In between the highs and the lows (and the revamped TV shows and movie reunions), our Instagram feeds were full of trends that made us want to de-clutter our homes, dress in head-to-toe athleisure gear, and challenge ourselves to freeze into crazy poses. Here at UncommonGoods, we fell in love with a few of these trends right alongside our customers. We took a look back at some of our favorites from the past 12 months, and provided a preview for the year ahead!

Solar System

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Maker Resources

Introducing the 2017 JCK Design Challenge

December 22, 2016

We’re always on the lookout for designs that stun us with their beauty, serve a purpose, solve a problem, or make us wonder why no one thought of it before. That’s why we’ve partnered with jewelry industry authority JCK on the 2017 design challenge for JCK Tucson, a curated destination for emerging artists and makers of finished jewelry and loose gemstones. JCK Tucson will be hosted from February 1-4, 2017 at the JW Marriott Starr Pass Resort & Spa in Tucson, AZ.

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Maker Stories

This Just In-spiration: Meet Scout Urling

December 22, 2016

Scout Urling - UncommonGoods

Part of what makes our products extra special is that each has a real story behind it. We work with so many inspiring artists and makers, and we love that our customers get a chance to meet them on the blog. One of our newest is Scout Urling, the creator of our Cold Weather Comfort Tea Gift Set, Good Morning Tea Gift Set, and Chocolate Lover Hot Chocolate Gift Set – all fresh additions to our assortment. Scout has always followed her own path, starting as a creative child and ending up as an entrepreneur. Now, she has her own business sending soothing teas and delicious hot chocolate sets all over the country. All of the ingredients she uses are sourced from local farmers, and she supports independent artistry with the packaging of her products as well. Read on to learn from Scout about becoming a business-owner, the goddess Athena, and the power of animal puns.

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