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Studio Tours

Maker Stories

Inside the Artist’s Studio with Jim Loewer

January 3, 2014

Jim Loewer Studio Tour | UncommonGoods
In stepping in and out of so many artists’ studios in the last two years, I realize that spaces can be categorized in two ways – those that provide inspiration and those that are all about the process. While some studios straddle the two, Jim Loewer’s studio, situated within a complex for various artists in the East Falls neighborhood of Philadelphia, was designed for his process. With little choices for a comfortable seat, Jim’s studio is built (and melted) around his tools, supplies, and storage of his finished product. He is a veritable one-man glass-blowing factory.

Don’t let that description lead you to believe his space was boring. Not in the slightest. Between the rock music and the pyrotechnics, I though I might have actually been at a Who concert, and the showmanship was just as exciting. He prepared the supplies for his two most popular UncommonGoods pieces – the Bullseye Suncatcher and Heart Bowl – so I could see them being completed, truly experiencing his process. He even gave me the opportunity to get in on the glass blowing experience.

Every time I step into a new studio, it is more unique than the last and my visit with Jim will definitely stand out in my mind as one of the most special.

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Maker Stories

Inside the Artist’s Studio with Meghan Ellie Smith

December 13, 2013

Meghan Ellie Smith

Clutter Castle is what Meghan calls her eccentric home studio, tucked away in the streets of Bushwick, Brooklyn. When I saw the odd, yet beautiful, string installation hanging from the ceiling, a collection of wooden instruments displayed on the wall, and a creepy plastic hand sitting on its own mini mantel, I fully understood how the Clutter Castle earned the honor of its name. But it’s funny, although I was like a kid in a candy shop in her vintage oasis — oohing and ahhing at every corner, I didn’t find it overwhelmingly chaotic. I felt as if the odds and ends of all the clutter were actually masterfully organized to push the use of imagination and a creative atmosphere. Which made perfect sense, because those were my exact thoughts about Meghan’s winning art piece, Chaos Mountain. The bright and earthy colors bleed into one another with no particular pattern, yet the shaped splices are meticulously placed. I love it. Perhaps the juxtaposition between the crashing watercolors and structured mountain reminds me a little of myself: a bit messy, a bit random, a bit chaotic, but in the end of the day, I know what I want to do and exactly where I want to go. “Not all who wander are lost,” a favorite quote by many free spirited individuals, resonates within the illustration of Chaos Mountain. Meghan Ellie Smith,a true free spirit herself, is not only the Queen of Clutter Castle, but officially wears the crown of our latest Art Contest. 

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Maker Stories

Inside the Artist’s Studio with Janelle Haskin

November 8, 2013

Janelle Haskin Studio Tour | UncommonGoods

Living and working in the social media world, you make a lot of friends you never meet. You share Tweets, Pins, and like each other’s Instagrams, but your paths usually don’t cross for many reasons. Janelle was one of those friends of mine. I connected with her a couple years ago and let her know when we were hosting out Winter Accessories Design Challenge hoping she could share the opportunity with her crocheting friends and perhaps enter herself. As the fates (and our design panel judges) had it, she was destined to win the contest so we could finally meet (among many other great perks of winning a design challenge!).

Stepping into her home was not like stepping into a typical studio tour. I was greeted with brunch and mimosas – it felt more like a play date. An hour later I found myself on the floor of her spare bedroom where she stores her supplies and designs, playing with yarn, hooks, and a ukulele (of all things) and I thought I was going to have to call my mom to see if I could stay longer.

Janelle and I speak the same language – she too was taught to knit and crochet by her grandmothers and spends her evenings with a project on the sofa. Never wanting to have idle hands, she has come up with some beautiful designs to keep her fingers busy, one of which won over the judges of our design challenge. Meet Janelle and welcome to her Philadelphia home – a veritable crocheter’s paradise.

Janelle Haskin Studio Tour | UncommonGoods

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Maker Stories

Inside the Artist’s Studio with Alejandro Velez & Nikhil Arora

October 18, 2013

Nikhil and Alejandro of Back to the Roots | UncommonGoodsWe call ourselves “uncommon” and pride ourselves on the uniqueness of our products, artists, and customers, and this month I wanted to feature a studio tour that was uncommon compared to its peers. Nikhil and Alejandro are two entrepreneurs who discovered while studying together at UC Berkeley that delicious oyster mushrooms are easily grown from discarded coffee grounds. Deciding not to keep that secret for too long, they created their first design to bring their brand of recycling to homes, offices, and classrooms across the country. When they launched their second product a couple months ago, a symbiotic ecosystem housed in a fish tank, it became clear that they sat at the intersection where science meets creative design.

Knowing that Alejandro and Nikhil were not the typical UncommonGoods designers, I wanted to take a closer look at their team dynamic and work space to see how they work. And although their products are not our typical handmade wares, I find them to be a strong representation of the hard work and creativity that these two friends share. Meet Alejandro and Nikhil, truly uncommon designers.

Back to the Roots studio tour | UncommonGoods

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Maker Stories

Inside the Artist’s Studio with Robert Blinn, Carl Collins, Peter Knocke & Daniel Stillman

October 7, 2013

the men of GothamSmith | UncommonGoodsSome designers have a creative studio, some have a company work space, but for this Studio Tour I rode my bike to the apartment of Carl Collins, the gathering-space of GothamSmith. It was early on a Tuesday morning and before they went their separate ways for the day, Pete, Daniel, and Carl got together around a handmade wooden table to meet with me and get some work done. There were few idle hands at the table; as we talked about how they all met and became GothamSmith, Carl was busy sketching new designs, Pete stamped their logo on muslin bags, and Daniel cut chain to assemble necklaces with pendants just delivered by Shapeways – a NYC-based 3D printing service that brings their designs to life.

As they reminisced about their original meeting space – a now-closed watering hole – and flipped through a book of anecdotes and inside jokes that they published for each other a couple years back, I couldn’t figure out which came first, the business or the friendship. Although Rob wasn’t able to join, I could tell these four guys are as passionate about their friendship as they are about their brand, an idea born from a lack of manly items at a handmade craft show.

Meet the guys of GothamSmith!

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Maker Stories

Inside the Artist’s Studio with Jeff Knight

September 3, 2013

UncommonGoods Artist Jeff Knight

The moment I saw Jeff Knight’s Nimbus Cloud Serving Board in our Woodworking Design Challenge I started rooting for it. I love the combination of sturdy, yet beautiful, hard maple and the whimsical cloud shape of the board–and the little raindrop serving trays are the perfect finishing touch to make this simultaneously playful and functional piece truly uncommon. When I found out that Jeff is from my hometown, I crossed my fingers a little harder, even though I was pretty confident our voting community would make sure the design made it to the final round. In the end, our community and our judges agreed with me that this wooden work of art was perfect for our assortment.

Since I happened to be planning a trip back home to Fargo, North Dakota, I HAD to jump on the opportunity to see where this winning design was born. Upon my arrival Jeff, in true Midwestern fashion, graciously welcomed me into his wood shop, offered up coffee, and gave me a tour of a beautifully sawdusty space called DIY Wood Studio, a shared woodworking environment filled will tools of all sizes, projects in the works, and a lot of inspiration.

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Maker Stories

Inside the Artist’s Studio with Emilie Shapiro

August 5, 2013

Jewelry designer Emilie Shapiro | UncommonGoods

 

I would definitely consider it love at first sight. The moment I saw the ragged edges and claw-like setting of the Raw Gemstone Necklaces, I knew I wanted to meet the designer. (And get one for myself.) So I invited myself to her Long Island City office and studio for a meeting.

Whenever I meet one of our incredible artists, I try to find similarities between myself and these seemingly normal people making extraordinary things. Our artists can make us all feel so much from a necklace or a wine glass that it makes me wonder if there is some super-human element they possess. Finding a common ground might indicate some greatness within myself. So I always look for a connection.

With Emilie Shapiro, it’s the love of treasures -digging through her rock and shell collection, hunting for pieces in her grandmother’s jewelry box, rediscovering something others have overlooked and bringing it all back to her worktable to create something new – that keeps her ticking. I too share her love of found objects and breathing new life into them.

Meet Emilie, lover of found objects and handmade jewelry designer.

Emilie's essential tools | UncommonGoods

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Maker Stories

Inside the Artist’s Studio with Etta Kostick

July 1, 2013

Stained glass is often associated with large-scale pieces; sprawling mosaics, iconic cathedral windows, and ancient works of art. This meticulous craft doesn’t have to be reserved for the grandiose, though. As Etta Kostick proves, stained glass provides an illustrious splash of color to handmade jewelry.

Etta combines the techniques that were passed to her from her family of glassblowers and her talent for sculpting jewelry from silver and other metals to create her bold hexagon bracelets and the rings and bracelets in her collection.

The artist creates her pieces in her Chicago studio–a bright, inviting work space within her own apartment. Although we didn’t catch her hula hooping in her living room (see “How do you recharge your creativity?”), we did convince her to take us on a virtual tour of the place where she captures light and luster with glass and solder.

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