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books

Maker Stories

Christine Schmidt’s Mismatched Earrings & Peculiar Pet Pendants

August 22, 2016

*Editor’s note: Christine Schmidt’s new designs are coming soon to our assortment. Get them first by pre-ordering here

Christine Schmidt in her San Francisco Studio | UncommonGoods

Christine Schmidt is a jewelry artist, printmaker, designer, illustrator, author, and fraternal twin. She says that maybe that last one influenced her decision to veer from convention and create her clever, quirky mismatched earrings: “I am myself different but a part of a unit. I’ll spare you the therapy–but I like to change it up.”

Here at UncommonGoods, we like to change it up too, and that’s why when we saw some of Christine’s mismatched designs, we couldn’t wait to work with her to create more canny combos.

We thought about a few of the interests our customers (and even many of the folks that work here) share, and worked with the artist on a new line celebrating books, space, and pets. Christine captured each of these concepts through her charming illustrations, turned them into brand new mismatched earrings, and even designed adorable cat and dog necklaces exclusively for UncommonGoods.

She took some time out from being a multi-talented super artist to tell us about her road to a creative career, her process, and working with our team.

Christine Schmidt's Mismatched Earrings | Exclusively at UncommonGoods

Books and Eyeglasses, Sun and Moon, and Cat and Dog Mismatched Earrings | Exclusively at UncommonGoods

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Maker Stories

This Just In-spiration: Meet Callie Meaney

August 24, 2015

Our makers never fail to motivate us, encourage our creativity, and fill us with inspiration. So, when a new design enters our assortment, we’re always excited to learn more about the person behind the product.

What gets an artist going and keeps them creating is certainly worth sharing, and every great connection starts with a simple introduction. Meet Callie Meaney, designer of the Literary Candles.

When did you know you wanted to be an artist?

I actually started making candles as a hobby. I love doing anything DIY and was happy to find something that combined artistry (drawing the labels) and the act of making something! When I started to use books as inspiration for the scents, that’s when I thought I could really make something out of it!

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What was the most exciting thing about becoming a professional artist?
It’s just amazing to me that I can do this as a full time job. I set my own hours, can be as creative as I like, and can call reading research. Nothing better than that!

What does your typical day in the studio look like?
I make my candles to order, so a typical day consists first of me drawing out a list of how many candles I need. I make them in the morning, do all shipping labels in the afternoon and label and pack them up at night!

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Is there a trinket, talisman, or other inspirational object you keep near? If so, what is it and what does it mean to you?
I like to keep the old jars I used when I first started. I bought them from a supermarket and handwrote the labels. It reminds me of where this all started, and how humbled I am that people like the things I make!

Imagine you just showed your work to a kindergartner for the first time. What do you think they would say?
I’m not sure they’d recognize the books used as inspiration, but hopefully they’d say they smell good!

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What quote or mantra keeps you motivated?
I actually love this quote by Lori Greiner: “Entrepreneurs are willing to work 80 hours a week to avoid working 40 hours a week.” Every time I feel overwhelmed, I remind myself that I am doing something I created and something I love. That beats working a job I’m not passionate about any day, and it makes the work seem so much easier.

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What are your most essential tools?
My most essential tools are my oven and my pouring pots!

Maker Stories

Wrapped Up in a Good Book: Tori Tissell’s Literary Scarves

October 20, 2014

Tori Tissell | UncommonGoods

It doesn’t take much exposition to connect literature and art. Artist Tori Tissell fuses both with fashionable flair in her literary scarves. Full of storybook charm, they harken back to Tori’s days as a budding artist. “Some of my earliest memories are from the age of three years old when I was painting in watercolors,” says Tori, “there’s a video recording of me being asked what I want to be when I grow up–my answer was an artist.”

This passion continued into adulthood, landing Tori as a drawing and painting major before deciding to move to New York City to study fashion design. “I thought that outlet would allow for a wider audience and quicker reception of my work and ideas.” Tori was right, and after being stumped for Christmas gift ideas during the 2011 holiday season, she decided to use her education and passion for screen printing, fashion, and literature to create something memorable for family and friends. “Since those closest to me also have an affinity towards reading, [book-inspired scarves] seemed like the perfect solution for gifts and possibly more.”

Literary Scarves | UncommonGoods

Tori sourced some fabric for the scarves and found a rich cream-colored knit. With this new material, she was inspired to print the scarves to resemble the page of a book. After the scarves were a hit, Tori began selecting other book texts to be screen-printed. “Initially books and passages were picked by what I favor and some of that will always hold true but lately we’ve been getting a lot of additional input,” says Tori. From Alice in Wonderland to Jane Eyre, each scarf showcases a window into a world of storybook magic.

Tori working on a Literary Scarf

Tori’s husband Chris became a part of the project when they got married in 2012. The scarves had really started taking off, and he began helping with screen printing, sourcing, and streamlining production. “By the end of that year, he was practically a full time employee on top of his other job as a computer programmer.”

Tori and Chris work out of a few spaces in Portland. “My workspace is a bit of a joke,” says Tori, “Chris is the one with a beautifully painted office, complete with overflowing bookshelves, leather furniture, and artifacts from past travels. My office is continually on the move. I either print pieces within our rented studio space in downtown Portland, or I cut and sew fabric on our dining room table.”

Tori and Chris

Wherever she happens to be working, Tori keeps pieces of inspiration handy. One such piece is the print cover art for Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, signed by the artist. This is one of many hints at her love of reading, a passion that perfectly enhances her art. Another source of inspiration can be found within. “I think it’s really important for an artist to surround oneself with his or her own work because taking on new illustrations is terrifying. It’s comforting to see what’s already been overcome and to be reminded that you can do this.”

Literary Scarves | UncommonGoods

The Uncommon Life

Our Uncommon Book Club Picks

October 20, 2014

Once the weather gets dreary and the bikes get put into storage, the typical morning commute of a U-Gooder involves a meandering, pre-coffee descent into the New York subway, followed by a (hopefully) quick transfer to the N or R trains. These are the two main lines that run through our neighborhood of Sunset Park, so it’s not unusual to bump into coworkers with their noses in a book. Given these frequent literary sightings, it seemed apropos to ask my fellow U-Gooders just what has them so engrossed that they almost miss the 59th Street stop.

What are you reading right now?
Nikki Desautelle“I just finished Magician’s Land by Lev Grossman, the final book in a series which starts off as a darker, more grownup up version of wizard school a la Harry Potter. It’s great because it allows me to continue my life long fantasy of the magical life that was STOLEN FROM ME.”
–Nikki DeSautelle, Graphic Designer


What’s your all-time favorite book?
Brian HashemiTropic of Cancer by Henry Miller. I remember walking into my college bookstore freshman year, reading the first paragraph, falling in love with it, and immediately deciding Henry Miller was my favorite author ever. Years later, and after reading every single book (both fiction and non-fiction) that Miller ever wrote – and he wrote a lot – it still holds true. Actually, just over Labor Day, I visited the Henry Miller Memorial Library in Big Sur, which was like a pilgrimage for me.”
–Brian Hashemi, Director of Marketing


Rebecca Marshall“It’s a tie between A Tale of Two Cities (the first book that really sucked me in; it made me love reading) and Prince of Tides. (I have no idea why I love this book. I just do. Every time I put it down I wanted to pick it back up.)”
–Rebecca Marshall, Associate Art Director



Reading tablet or the real thing?Jen Grim
“While I own hundreds of real books, I vote for tablet. I travel a lot and love the convenience of always having several books to read without having to sacrifice suitcase space for books.”
–Jennifer Grim, Director of Customer Service



Jille Natalino
“The real thing. I read a novel on my iPhone once and my eyes hurt for weeks afterwards, but more importantly: I m a bit nosy— I like to know what other people are reading on the subway and can use any excuse to talk to strangers (the fault/charm of being a Southerner.) Therefore, I prefer my books to proudly display their titles as well”–Jille Natalino, Graphic Designer

Sum up your you life with a book title.Emily Hodges
Catch 22 – From deciding what shoes to wear in the morning, to choosing what to eat for lunch, to booking an AirBnb accommodation for my next travel plans — I’m always thinking “I should have went with the other choice” even if I know exactly why I didn’t.”
–Emily Hodges, Community Outreach Associate



Jen ColemanMe Talk Pretty One Day by David Sedaris—sums up how I feel before my morning coffee!”
–Jennifer Coleman,Community Outreach Assistant







Other titles that made the cut: Omnivore’s Dilemma (Michael Pollan), Jitterbug Perfume (Tom Robbins), The Alchemist (Paulo Coelho), Signature of All Things (Elizabeth Gilbert), and A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius (Dave Eggers).

Probably the best takeaway from this office poll is how eager everyone was to talk about what’s in his or her reading queue. Just add some good wine and bite-sized snacks, and we’d have had a good old-fashioned book club meeting. Too bad a crowded subway car isn’t an ideal setting for a tasteful crudité.

Do you have a can’t miss book club pick? Let us know in the comments below or by tweeting @UncommonGoods!

Gift Guides

Uncommon Gifts for the Book Lover

November 12, 2012

The smell of ink and paper excites them. They don’t consider a tote bag quite full unless there’s a paperback or an e-reader inside. To them, life is a series of stories. Some call them the literati, bibliophiles, or even book worms. But, they’re not so concerned about those titles, because they’d rather be browsing the shelves for titles from their favorite authors. They are book lovers, and here are some gifts that are sure to read well with them this holiday season.

Vintage Shoe Form Bookends / Storymatic Game / Book Clock / Book Plate Stamp / ReFleece Kindle Cover / Upcycled USPS Mail Sack Tote / Vintage Text Cufflinks / Literary Art iPad Cases