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dogs

Uncommon Knowledge

Uncommon Knowledge: What’s the Point?

November 28, 2015

Mr. Owl Touch Lamp

Although mechanical voting machines are largely a thing of the past, you might remember the large, manual contraptions, their satisfying click as levers were pushed down, and a familiar symbol: little silhouettes of hands pointing to party lines. The symbol in question has gone by many names throughout history. Most commonly called the “printer’s fist” today, historically it also went by the name of manicule. William Sherman’s “Toward a History of the Manicule” points to the origins, use, and meaning of this handy icon. He notes that manicules (from the Latin manicula, or “little hand”) hail from 12th century Spain as a directional device in manuscript marginalia. But it’s not until the 18th or 19th century that the manicule becomes ubiquitous shorthand for “look here.” Sherman asserts that “printer’s fist” is printer-speak for the symbol, used extensively in pamphlets, broadsides and signage during the golden age of letterpress printing. And the printer’s fist is enjoying a resurgence in the letterpress revival. Transcending its original function as an anthropomorphic arrow, it has invaded pop culture–from Monty Python animation to contemporary typophiles’ tattoos.

The essence of the manicule / printer’s fist as universal pointer may not lie anywhere in its academic history. Rather, it may be man’s best friend who most clearly demonstrates the impact of the pointing finger. Recent research has shown that part of the long-standing, uncanny bond between dogs and people relates to canines’ ability to comprehend human gestures, including pointing. Not even our fellow primates have an innate recognition of this common gesture of non-verbal communication. Our interactions with dogs can teach us much about our own nature, including the power of a pointing index finger to convey direction and importance in both text and spatial situations. Got it? Good boy!

Mr. Owl Touch Lamp | $195

The Uncommon Life

Uncommon Personalities: Meet Max Peña

October 27, 2015

MaximoPena

Max Peña, Uncommongoods Associate Supervisor 

My hometown…
Right here, Sunset Park. I grew up 5 blocks from UG and now live on Staten Island, but I still visit every day.

I’m passionate about…
Quality time with family and friends, my wife Milly and especially my daughter Gabriella.

When I was a kid my favorite television program was…
Mission Impossible. I wanted to be a spy.

A song I love so much that I played it until I was sick of it…
All of Ed Sheeran‘s music.

The most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen is…
My little girl experiencing life, learning and soaking it all up. Loving animals, nature, music, and the arts.

When I’m not working, I’m probably…
Spending quality time with my family and of course my dog Harley. He’s an Italian Greyhound.

My favorite place to go in New York City is…
Plays and Musicals! Absolutely!!!

An uncommon fact about me…
I am a 5 time Champion in the Amateur Bowlers Tour (ABT).
I’m addicted to dominoes and have run a dominoes league.

The Uncommon Life

Uncommon Personalities: Meet Claire Wyebright Feuer

June 23, 2015

Claire Wyebright Feuer, Merchant Assistant – Tabletop

My hometown…
Boerum Hill, Brooklyn.

I’m passionate about…
Spending time with family and friends and exercising.

A piece of music I love so much that I played it until I was sick of it …
Probably everything on my iPhone. One example would be Halo by Beyonce.

If I could throw the perfect party…
It would be an evening beach party in Bali with lanterns, amazing food, and free back massages.

The best luck I’ve had in my life so far was…
Discovering Dora (my dog) at the pound. She’s my life!

If I could meet anyone, living or not, I would choose…
Frida Kahlo – she was so talented, edgy, and all around awesome.

An uncommon fact about me…
I’m great at raising goldfish. My goldfish are now 9 years old! I’m also an avid journal-er and have written 30 so far. My goal is to reach 100 journals.

Would you rather… get a one-time free shopping spree at Tiffany, or be able to shop at any discount store free for the rest of your life?
I normally shop at discount stores anyway, so being able to shop at any discount store free for the rest of my life would be a dream.

Maker Stories

Love Letters from Your Pet by Karen Jones

July 9, 2013

Usually when it comes to design challenges, we adhere to the rules. (Mostly because I’m a relentless stickler!) But every once and a while a submission comes along that makes you think twice. Our Art Contest is usually call for a digital rendering of a piece of art that we will reproduce and sell framed. However, Karen Jones entered a piece that wouldn’t fit that model. She entered her Love Letter Custom Pet Portraits that are oil paintings on a piece of steel of your beloved canine or feline, with a little note expressing their love to you. Since each piece is made to order, we wouldn’t be able to print and frame the paintings but the call was for art and that is exactly what Karen sent us. She also must have known we have a soft spot for our pets.

What is one uncommon fact about you?
I have a twin brother who is an artist also. On the surface we are not the same, he is a tall red headed cowboy and I am a short, high heeled, glitter loving city dweller. We were born artists and luckily enough had great art teachers when we were growing up in Arizona. We were in a lot of the same art classes in school which was fun because I always had a painting buddy. I still like to paint with other people around me, but that doesn’t happen anymore. I had to learn to love to be alone with my art. Now I look forward to being alone with just me and my art. Well, sort of alone. I paint with my dog, Ruby next to me.

When did you first realize you’re an artist?
Last week. Funny, but I think we as artist have an internal idea of what being an artist is. I was an artist to the outside world since kindergarten. Art was always fairly easy for me. Awards, lots of art classes, going to art school… none of those made me feel like I was an artist. Three years ago, I became a full time, money making artist. That didn’t even make me feel like an artist.

When I started painting from my heart and giving more of myself and accomplishing paintings that I felt were ‘hard to do’ or challenging and I did it… that’s when I realized I was an artist.

Where do you get inspiration for your art?
Everywhere. I try not to walk through life with too much singular focus. I am always looking around, letting things grab my attention. I look at other people art, that can often trigger an idea in myself. I love to travel, ideas often come to me while driving down the road. I look for things to spark my interest and then process them through the mill of my mind, letting the idea develop a little before making it real. I’ve started writing down ideas I have in the middle of the night but that doesn’t work. I wake up wondering what, ‘I’m human in pink chalk’ means.

Describe your artistic process.
On Sunday nights, I get my canvases for the week ready. I paint on steel, so I get my steel ready. I get the image drawn on, make sure I have a photo printed to work from and enough paint.

Then on Monday morning, after coffee, a little time on the internet and a load of laundry, I head to the studio in my house. I put a ’70s tv program like, ‘Hawaii Five-O’ on and start painting. Once I get started, I sort of go in a zone and before I know it, it’s 4pm and time to get on the treadmill and make dinner. To me setting up my environment so I am not distracted and able to go into the zone is key. My focus stays clear and singularly focused. Sometimes when I need more emotion in my painting, I put on loud love music or on Fridays, Disco.

Describe your work space.
Today my studio is my 1968 vintage Airstream. We love going places, so sometimes I’m lucky enough to be able to paint while on the road.

Normally, I paint in my studio at home. My house is very modern and open. My studio is on the second floor with a big oval window with a nice view and good light. My studio isn’t big and is oddly for an artist, very clean. The only things in my studio are my painting easel, my paint table, a table for the computer so I can watch ’70s tv and a big chair and ottoman for me to sit back and ponder over what I need to do the painting. Only the things I need, nothing more. It keeps my mind uncluttered.

And of course, my dog, Ruby. She stairs at me while I paint.

What advice would you give to another artist interested in entering one of our design challenges?
Enter. You never know unless you try. Use your already developed support group of friends, family and customers and ask them every day to vote for you. Use social media and don’t worry about bugging people. They want to support you, let them.