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This Just In-spiration

Maker Stories

This Just In-spiration: Meet
Jonathan Bobrow

January 9, 2018

Here at UncommonGoods, we’re always on the lookout for newcomers to our assortment of artists whose creations make us smile, think, or say “wow” when we glance at our homepage (a daily activity here). The latest in this parade of intriguing creators? One Jonathan Bobrow, a self-described “artist, designer, programmer, math lover, and constantly curious individual.” A former student at the MIT Media Lab, Jonathan is best known ’round these parts for his Troxes: Origami Building Blocks—toys that fold together to create intricate shapes without the aid of glue, tape, or any other sticky substance… excepting a little elbow grease.

For someone (wink, nudge) whose favorite part of their job often involves interviewing new artists, Jonathan was an ideal study. Talkative, open, and excited to share the story behind his Origami Building Blocks, Jonathan provided us with more fascinating material than we could possibly pack into a single quick-and-dirty blog post. That didn’t stop us from trying, though. Read on for a full account of our attempt, including an explanation of what A League of Their Own has to do with designing laser-cut toys.

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Maker Stories

This Just In-spiration:
Meet Richard Glass

December 20, 2017

We sell loads of glass here at UncommonGoods, and I often joke with my friends that it’s not quite my thing—that I appreciate the artistry of it, but it just doesn’t speak to me the way, say, a piece of jewelry does. (As a former art history student who doesn’t much dig Impressionism, I’m pretty practiced at delivering that type of spiel.) To be totally honest, though, I’ve come to see glass in a new light since speaking with so many of our wonderful makers. They give their work a personality and meaning that I, a relative philistine, at least as far as glass goes, hadn’t really considered before. And Richard Glass is no exception… though he is, we concede, exceptionally well-named.

We were first introduced to Richard’s handiwork—his Saturn Glass Sculptural Bowl in particular—in a meeting room in our office in Sunset Park, Brooklyn, and we soon reached out to him in search of answers to questions like: “Why glass?” and “What inspires you?” What we received were some seriously delightful insights into his past and passions, complete with anecdotes that made us chuckle and wise words that made us go hmm at our desks. Read on for our Q&A with Richard, complete with a sneak peek into his dazzling workspace in Devon, England.

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Maker Stories

This Just In-spiration:
Meet Debbie Mullin

November 30, 2017

If you’ve never tasted the glory that is Vietnamese coffee, we encourage you to locate your nearest bánh mì place and order one immediately. The delectable combo of Vietnamese-grown coffee and sweetened condensed milk may seem simple, but trust us: It’s genius, just like maker Debbie Mullin’s new-to-UG Vietnamese Coffee Portable Pour Overs, which allow you to indulge in the drink’s sweet, creamy, caffeinated goodness wherever you go, so long as “wherever” has hot water.

We first saw Debbie’s pour overs in the kitchen here at our Brooklyn office, and with one sip of her tasty, tasty coffee (and an extra indulgent lick of any sweetened condensed milk that didn’t make it all the way into the mug), we knew we had to get the inside scoop on her product—what it is, where it comes from, and how she decided to make it. Read on for more on the birth of Debbie’s business, complete with an account of her recent visit to Saigon and a brief summary of what it’s like to grow up in a Vietnamese-Chinese-Jewish-American household… food-wise, anyway.

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Maker Stories

This Just In-spiration: Meet Gayle Harte

November 15, 2017

Mmm… chocolate. Who can resist the stuff? We’ve known a few cacao-hating weirdos* in our time, but here at UG, most everyone jumps at the chance to sample nature’s most delectable treat. That’s why we got so excited when we first saw Gayle Harte’s Chocolate Truffle Champagne Bottle, now officially available for purchase at UncommonGoods. It’s pretty much what it sounds like: a dark-and-white chocolate champagne bottle, neck enveloped in a pretty pink bow, that houses nine tasty champagne truffles. Need we say it again? Mmm… chocolate. And champagne!

 

A master of playfully shaped treats and an entrepreneur in her own right, we knew Gayle would be a perfect subject for our This Just In-spiration series—and she didn’t disappoint. Read on for Gayle’s insights on the benefits of chocolate for both body and soul, as well as a brief history of her Royal Oak, Michigan chocolaterie and espresso bar.

*We’re kidding, of course… it’s fine if you don’t like chocolate. Seriously… it’s… ugh. It’s fine.

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Maker Stories

This Just In-spiration: Meet Robert Hargrave

October 10, 2017

When you think “fine art,” your mind doesn’t usually jump to “plywood.” That is, in large part, why Robert Hargrave’s sculptures are so intriguing. Born in Ohio, raised in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, and now based in Portland, Oregon, Robert handcrafts exquisite creations from layers of richly colored plywood. At first glance, you’d never guess the material—and, in a way, that’s the point. “In a homogeneous world of sameness, diversity is something to strive for,” Robert says. “My goal is to make products that are a joy to look at, a pleasure to touch, and an honor to own.”

After taking an up-close-and-personal look at Robert’s Layered Hardwood Magic Lamp Sculpture (albeit in the comfort of our Brooklyn office), we here at UncommonGoods knew we just had to find out a bit more about him, like how he manages to make two-by-fours look so darn fancy. Read on for more insight into Robert’s background and day-to-day as a creator, including a breakdown of what motivates him—and a tip o’ the hat to the sculpture that started it all.

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Maker Stories

This Just In-spiration: Meet Marylène Chauveau

September 26, 2017

Far, far away from UncommonGoods’ historic headquarters in Sunset Park, Brooklyn, Marylène Chauveau manipulates glass in her home studio in Wotton, Québec. A native of the French-speaking Canadian province, Marylène lives where she works, tracing, cutting, sanding, and assembling striking pieces of finely colored glass into jewelry, mobiles, and suncatchers, all while tending to her two school-aged boys.

When we first saw Marylène’s Night Sky Mobile—a new addition to our assortment—in the flesh, we found ourselves struck by its delicate, masterful construction and by Marylène’s own background as a STEM worker-turned-glass artist. Intrigued, we set out to welcome her as we do all of our most exciting new makers: with her very own spot in our This Just In-spiration series. (As you can see, she accepted the offer. And we’re so glad.)

Read on for a glimpse into Marylène’s studio, complete with the rundown on her morning ritual and a suite of pretty pictures of her fine vitraux. (That’s French for “stained glass,” FYI. And the cat above? That’s un chat.)

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Maker Stories

This Just In-spiration: Meet
Sarah Beth Elkins

September 18, 2017

When it comes to the creative realm, Sarah Beth Elkins has done a little bit of everything, from book-binding to teaching high schoolers graphic design, but her true passion lies in one thing: clay. Now a professional potter working from her home studio north of Houston, Texas, Sarah Beth molds mounds of the pliable stuff into playful mugs, bowls, and even earrings, not to mention the lovely, lighthearted Berry Colander that’s now available for purchase at UncommonGoods.

With one look at Sarah Beth’s adorable berry bowl, we here at UG fell quickly in love with her careful craftsmanship and whimsical touch, and we wanted to give her a proper welcome to the family with her very own post in our This Just In-spiration series. Read on for our Q&A with Sarah Beth, touching on her time as a teacher, her day-to-day life in the studio, and much, much more.

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Maker Stories

This Just In-spiration: Meet Leah Monaghan and Barb Stauffer

August 29, 2017

Names, like looks, can be deceiving. After all, there’s nothing “simple” about the syrups that UG newcomers Leah Monaghan and Barb Stauffer create together in Columbus, Ohio. Crafted using organic cane sugar and ingredients sourced from local farms, Leah and Barb’s concoctions are all-natural, made in small batches, and, quite frankly, delicious. But that’s not all. Despite being busy moms—that’s how they met, after all—Barb and Leah have grown their business with their own two—er, four—hands, waking at the crack of dawn to get cooking, crossing state lines in the name of distribution, and hand-packing their fair share of tasty mixers, all as part of their first ever joint entrepreneurial endeavor.

When we learned of Barb and Leah’s successes (and saw what tasty flavors they’ve thought up), we knew we had to give them a welcome the only way we know how—that is, with their very own interview. We sat down on a real live phone line and spoke with the duo all about how they got started and how much they’ve grown, touching on victories, troubles, and touching mementos. Read on for more.

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