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woodworking

Maker Stories

This Just In-spiration: Meet Avik Maitra and Rich Moore

August 8, 2016

Avik Maitra and Rich Moore | UncommonGoods

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 people 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 Rich Moore and Avik Maitra, creators of our new Free Form Bulletin Board and Magnetic Cutting Boards and Knife Rack.

Magnetic Cutting Board and Free Floating Bulletin Board | UncommonGoods

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Maker Stories

Inside the Artists’ Studios: A Year of Creativity

January 8, 2016

Inside the Artists' Studios | UncommonGoods

One of the most exciting things about serving as Editor of The Goods is that there’s always a Maker Story right around the corner. I am honored to get opportunities to meet talented artists, to see what they make and how they make it, and– when I’m extra lucky– to actually step inside their creative spaces. Over the past year, I had the pleasure of visiting several artists and seeing them in action, as did a few of our blog contributors, photographers, and buyers.  

From woodworking to weaving to jewelry making and beyond, we saw so much creativity last year that we couldn’t help but give our 2015 Studio Tours one more chance to shine before heading out with cameras and notepads to capture more inspirational moments in the year to come. Here are a few hand-picked highlights from those Studio Tours, complete with a few inspirational quotes, photos that made me want to drop everything and start a new creative project on the spot, and plenty of great advice. 

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Maker Stories

Inside the Artists’ Studio with David and Christopher Steinrueck

November 10, 2015

Christopher and David Steinrueck | UncommonGoods

 David and Christopher Steinrueck, Photos by Emily Hodges

Brother duo, David and Christopher Steinrueck, work out of their woodshop in the heart of San Francisco.  After spending just a few moments inside a space that invites noise from wood slicing tools and is spotted with patches of fallen saw dust, it’s not hard to see that sustainability, craftsmanship, and community are the values that build the very foundation of their business, Wood Thumb. David, Chris, and their team salvage reclaimed wood’s natural beauty when crafting it into everyday function and modern design. From their Wooden Beer Caddy to their Magnetic Bottle Opener – their beautiful craftsmanship is obvious and “there is no part that is unnecessary and everything is created with intention.” Read on to find out what community means to David and Chris and why you might want to pop in for one of the woodworking classes that they offer the next time you find yourself in San Francisco.

Wooden Beer Caddies by Christopher and David Steinrueck

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Maker Stories

Inside the Artist’s Studio with Nils Wessell

October 16, 2015

Nils Wessell | UncommonGoodsNils in his Brooklyn woodshop, photos by Rachel Orlow

Nils Wessell is the creator of our Tablet Holding Cutting Board , an innovative design that allows cooks to easily prep ingredients with their electronic tablets ready and enabled right in front of them. While heirloom cookbooks are becoming a thing of the past, Nils’ cutting boards are beautifully-crafted and sturdily-constructed, meaning they bring a dose of tactile beauty to cooking in the electronic age. 

When I first read our This Just In-spiration interview with the Brooklyn-based designer and woodworker, I got the impression that he’s not only a talented craftsman, but also someone who is truly passionate, not only about his own craft, but also about art across a broad spectrum. When I learned that his woodshop is located in nearby Industry City, I knew I had to pay him a visit to learn more about his thoughts on the pursuit of creativity and the challenges (and rewards) that come with balancing art and business. 

Once in Nils’ creative space, I saw work, experimentation, knowledge, and–at the risk of sounding a little cheesy here–the magic in the sawdust all around me. Nils’ studio is a mix of books, designs in the prototype phase, power tools, and exquisitely-crafted cutting boards in different stages of production. Read on to see some of these works in progress, hand tools and heavy machinery, and our interview with Nils. 

Nils Wessell | UncommonGoods Studio Tour

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Maker Stories

This Just In-spiration: Meet Seth and Kali Keaveny

September 16, 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 people 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 Seth and Kali Keaveny, creators of the Wooden Gear Lamp and the Wooden Pendulum Clock.
Keaveny Family
Seth took a few minutes to tell us about working full-time in the “corporate” world while running his own business, spending time with his newborn son, and working to make his dreams a reality.

When did you know you wanted to be an artist?
Just the other day, while organizing my basement, I came across an exercise that was dated “1980” (puts me in first grade) saying, “When I grow up I want to be an artist or a professional baseball player.” I would like to say that being an artist was a lifelong dream, but in truth… it was not something I took an interest in until my senior year at Tulane University. In fact, I selected to sing in an all-male choir in high school to avoid having to take art classes.
Perhaps my subconscious knew what my destiny might be, but throughout my youth I had strategically led my life no different than most. Go to college… get a degree… find a job… and do what you got to do. Fortunately, my heart overpowered my brain and took control forcing me to further educate myself in my passion/calling in life. At twenty two, I took a few continued education classes at SCAD in Savannah, GA only to find myself lucky enough to be invited to the Furniture Design program and receive my MFA. In short, I was a “late bloomer” when I discovered my passion to become an artist and have not looked back since.

Wooden Pendulum Clock | UncommonGoods

What does your typical day in the studio look like?
Here is my day… day in and day out. I wake up no later than 2 a.m. (yes, 2 a.m.) and get to my corporate gig by 3 a.m., organize the work flow for my employees, and begin to complete the action items I have created for myself for that day. Currently, I manage the “Creative Design & Engineering Center” for North America with a great company that appreciates my creative and professional contributions while providing me the flexibility to efficiently achieve my daily obligations for them and my personal goals at [my own business,]Kkorner. I get home by 1 p.m. and head to the studio to work until about 5 p.m. or 6 p.m. Next, I eat some dinner and hang with my amazing wife, Kali, and our incredible new born son, Tennyson. My head hits the pillow around 9 p.m. or so.
This lifestyle is not an easy one. It is not a lifestyle that is recommended to those who do not have a burning drive to become successful at something they love… something they MUST do… something that they truly believe they will eventually reap the rewards putting in long hours and willing to “pay their dues.”
Once all of the pieces fall into place, Kkorner will become a fulltime gig, but I have no intentions of slowing down! Sleep is overrated and the idea of sleeping one-third of this precious thing we call life is honestly disturbing to me. And if I could spend all twenty four hours of the day designing and creating, I would be a very happy man. Unfortunately, I need about five hours of rest to reboot and to maintain a clear and sound mind.

Seth and Kali Keaveny

What was the most exciting thing about becoming a professional artist?
Being labeled as a “professional artist” can be a very personal achievement to obtain. In my current situation, I am not there… even though we have been very successful and have grown much faster than originally planned, until Kkorner is capable of providing me with enough income to comfortably support me and my family and has become a household brand name, I do not categorize myself as a professional artist. I define a “professional artist” as someone who can generate significant revenue doing what they love and are passionate about each and every day. We project that by the first quarter of 2017 this dream will manifest itself.
To answer the question directly, all I think about every second of the day is the desire to share my creations with the world. One might define this as being obsessed. In fact, I believe one must be obsessed to achieve a dream. Being conscious that I can touch people’s lives, in some small way, even with a lamp or valet, can bring tears to my eyes and chills to my bones. To inspire… to influence… to share… and, most importantly, to put a smile on someone’s face… THAT is what it is all about! THAT is the driving force behind my desire of becoming a successful professional artist.



Is there a trinket, talisman, or other inspirational object you keep near? If so, what is it and what does it mean to you?
Interesting question. The only items that I make sure I acknowledge on a daily bases are photos and paintings of my loved ones who have impacted my life in a positive way and who have since passed. This collection consists of family members and even my first dog of seventeen years, Taylor.

Imagine you showed your work to a kindergartner for the first time. What do you think they would say?
Again… another great question. When the design and function allow, I try to have my pieces be “interactive.” That being said, I believe one of the first things that a kindergartner would ask is, “How do you do that?” That is when the door opens to not only educate this young and beautiful mind, but too inspire and direct them on how important it is to live a life of passion.

Wooden Gear Lamp

What quote or mantra keeps you motivated?
I have two quotes that I have printed large enough to be pasted on my studio walls. The first quote is one that any artist will appreciate…
“I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” – Thomas Edison

The second quote is very personal and inspirational to me. I believe this quote to be very profound and only those individuals who live their life with the same burning passion will appreciate and understand…

“Entrepreneurship is living a few years of your life like most people won’t, so you can live the rest of your life like most people can’t.” – Unknown

However, the quote pasted on wall has our brand name, Kkorner, in place of the word “entrepreneurship.”

What are you most essential tools?
Not being sarcastic nor disrespectful to the question, but my most essential tool is my “brain.”

See the Collection | UncommonGoods

Maker Stories

This Just In-spiraton: Meet Tristan Martin

July 20, 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 Tristan Martin, designer of the Wooden Wine Preserver.

When did you know you wanted to be an artist?
When I was a kid, I spent a lot of time in the garage building my own wooden toys. My parents encouraged me to use resources available around our house and in the garage to create my own entertainment. My dad was a hobbyist woodworker and taught me some basic skills. Some of my favorite childhood projects were an electric wooden helicopter with a paper clip for a switch, a wooden sailboat, a kayak, a skateboard, a bike trailer, swing-drawer keepsake boxes, and Adirondack-style chairs. I found joy in being creative, experimenting in the garage, and designing my own unique toys, and I’ve been working with wood and various other arts ever since.

What was the most exciting thing about becoming a professional artist?
I love being able to create something that’s useful and beautiful that people can use in their own homes. As a basement winemaker myself, I like knowing that my wine preserver enables people to enjoy each bottle of wine longer. It makes me happy, and I hope it brings a simple joy to my customers too.

What does your typical day in the studio look like?
I do my best thinking when I’m walking, so I start each studio day with a long stroll. This is usually the time that I come up with my most creative ideas. Good, strong coffee is another must-have, so I always start my day with a cup or two. My favorite time in my shop is morning, when the low sun streams through the open windows. I get into my groove listening to ’60s Latin Jazz.

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 inherited my dad’s hand-built workbench and antique hand tools, a constant reminder of the childhood days I spent learning and working next to him in his own garage.

Tristan’s antique hand drill | photo by Stuart Mullenberg

Imagine you just showed your work to a kindergartner for the first time. What do you think they would say?
Even though my wine preserver is obviously designed for adults, I find that young kids are often surprisingly curious about the woodworking process, and they tend to ask some impressive questions about the details of my work. They’re especially curious about what the button and levers do.

What quote or mantra keeps you motivated?
I just love seeing my ideas through from start-to-finish. Watching the progression from raw wood to a polished piece gives me all the motivation I need.

What are your most essential tools?
My hand-crank coffee grinder rivals my woodworking tools for most indispensable.

 

Maker Stories

This Just In-spiration: Meet Nils Wessell

July 13, 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 Nils Wessell, the maker behind our new Tablet Holding Cutting Board.

When did you know you wanted to be an artist?
Always. It’s just what I did, even before I could walk. To an extent, I think we’re all this way. Being creative is a core part of being a human.

What was the most exciting thing about becoming a professional artist?
Getting the opportunity to meet so many other creative people in my field and getting to collaborate with them.

What does your typical day in the studio look like?
I like to keep a schedule. I show up at 9 and stay until at least 5. What I do is always changing with the demands of the business. Sometimes, it is a full day of creating, other days I am communicating with clients in the morning and designing in the afternoon.

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 keep a lot of old artwork – from friends, little kids I knew, other artists. I like to use them as extensions of my memory. The other “object” I need to inspire me is empty space. I need a place where there’s only air. It helps calm my mind and gets my imagination going.

Imagine you just showed your work to a kindergartener for the first time. What do you think he/she would say?
“It’s so smooth!” or “Did you make it?” Followed by “How?”

What quote or mantra keeps you motivated?
Thinking about my next steps. I’m always excited about what is to come, and where to go from where I am. I’m very “future minded,” for lack of a better term. I have so many projects that I want to do and make. The list is staggering!

 

The Uncommon Life

Making a Difference through Handmade Designs

July 11, 2015

Dave in India Last year, we introduced you to Matr Boomie, a long time vendor and producer of traditionally made wooden goods. Our founder and CEO, Dave Bolotsky, took a tour of their artisan community in India, prompting a personal relationship with both the collective and the history surrounding the area.

Since then, we’ve begun a rolling donation partnership with the collective’s founder, Manish Gupta. For every dollar UncommonGoods donates to the collective, Matr Boomie will match that, lending both resources and opportunities to the artisans and their families. With this shared goal, we hope to provide a better way of life for those who produce and sell the items that have become customer favorites.

Owl Eyeglass Holder | UncommonGoods

Owl Eyeglass Holder
While the purchases themselves support the artists by offering them a continued means of income, this donation program will offer even more to the community. With the UG partnership, Matr Boomie has developed programs to hit two major areas of impact:

Health & Sanitation
Health camps offering free checkups, medicines, and eye exams will be set up in three different areas. There will also be a department for women’s health, a subject that is traditionally taboo in the area. This program will provide sanitary napkins by installing a napkin-manufacturing unit, which will also employ 2-3 women.
Artisans Receiving Eye Exams

Wood craft artisans receiving eye exams.

Education of Artisans & the Next Generation
Being in such a rural area, computer literacy is a major challenge. They have access to one computer center, but monthly expenditures are a concern. This program will strengthen the facility and even produce the funds to open an additional computer center, offering access to the artisans and their families.

English class

Artisans and their children now have access to English classes and other educational opportunities. 

To learn more about this program and the history that’s passed down into each piece they produce, check out our blog post about Dave’s visit to India. We’re looking forward to watching the community grow!

 

Wooden Items Handmade in India | UncommonGoods
See the Collection | UncommonGoods

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