The Uncommon Life

14 Uncommon (& Surprising) Valentine’s Day Facts

February 9, 2018

Crimson Heart Umbrella
Crimson Heart Umbrella – $32 Buy Now »

 

Valentine’s day is a pretty special day.

Whether you’re lucky in love, celebrate with single friends, or share the day with family members, you likely have something planned for February 14.

But why is the occasion so important? Here are a few fun facts about St. Valentine’s Day.

Beating Heart Bottle Sculpture
Beating Heart in a Bottle Sculpture – $100 Buy Now »

 

Who is this St. Valentine guy, anyway?

Today, the Catholic church actually recognizes three saints by the name of Valentine or Valentinus. Each St. Valentine was martyred.

So, which one is the St. Valentine of St. Valentine’s Day?

Legend has it that the St. Valentine was a priest in Rome during the third century. The emperor at the time, Claudius II, decided that single men made better soldiers, not having their hearts promised to special someones and all. So ol’ Claud outlawed Marriage. Valentine didn’t agree with the emperor’s rule and went around marrying folks anyway. Eventually, Valentine got caught and Claudius sentenced him to death for his defiance.

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Maker Stories

Inside the Artist’s Studio
with Carolyn Gavin

February 6, 2018

Artist Carolyn Gavin and her puppy Eggroll, photos by Jen Coleman

If you deconstruct the most inspiring quotes throughout history, you’ll find that they all have a few things in common: great wordsmithing, flawless pacing, memorable messaging. So when I asked artist Carolyn Gavin what inspires her to illustrate quotes, I thought she might say she enjoyed experimenting with fonts in watercolor, or that wanted her art to honor influential leaders or her favorite musicians. I quickly learned that these assumptions were too surface level for an artist who uses color like Carolyn. When describing her design process for our “World is Full of Magic” print, she simply said, “it’s just a feeling. I knew that quote would need flowers.”

After visiting Carolyn’s home studio in downtown Toronto, it is evident that this beautiful, gentle approach to her art manifests in every aspect of her life. Where the average person sees words or objects, Carolyn envisions bouquets, nature, and exotic shapes. Every corner inside of the 120-year-old Victorian house that she shares with her husband, her daughter Lily, and their English Bulldog Eggroll, is drenched in her signature color palette. From the quaint garden that she maintains in her off time, to the walls decorated with bright patterns that would make Justina Blakeney pause, every detail embodies the same joy that we find so captivating about her prints.

Carolyn is an artist who truly lives the words penned by writer Khalil Gibran, “Work is love made visible.” As I made my way around her sun-drenched studio, it was hard to distinguish which of her projects would be defined as work or “play.” She approaches every opportunity to create as a chance to learn and explore. Whether it’s sharing watercolors with her enthusiastic Instagram followers, or experimenting with new graphic design techniques for a commissioned project. Her creative perspective is always evolving.  

Read on to discover how Carolyn finds inspiration in her travels, how she maintains balance between her family’s business and her own artistic goals, and why she believes that the world is always full of magic. 

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Gift Guides

Our Least Mushy (But Still Lovable!) Valentine’s Day Gifts

February 2, 2018

Ever feel like Valentine’s Day is… well… a little bit gross? Call us immature, but here’s a secret: We agree, at least sometimes. All that lovey-dovey stuff isn’t for everyone; heck, some of us even show our love best with gifts that may seem totally aromantic—nerdy scarves, celestial bottle stoppers, coasters crafted from vinyl LPs… Trust us, the list goes on and on. Thankfully, we’ve shown restraint in choosing our tippy-top non-mushy Valentine’s Day gifts this year, selecting an even 20 of our favorites to bring joy to your sweetheart’s face. Read on for more. Continue Reading…

Gift Guides

Valentine’s Day Gifts for a Relaxing Night In

January 29, 2018

We encourage relaxing throughout the year, but even we must admit that Valentine’s Day comes at an opportune time to chill. By mid-February, the holidays are over, and the sheen of the new year’s worn off just a tad—and with real life staring you right in the face, what better way to cope than with a hot, sudsy bath or a box of dark, indulgent chocolates? Now, with our favorite gifts to keep your Valentine’s Day celebration as peaceful as humanly possible, you can make a date of de-stressing. Read on for the rundown on 13 of our best bath soaks, tea kits, candles, and more.

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Maker Stories

Recreating Nature: Scott Johnson on Glass, Work, & Finding Your Passion

January 26, 2018

Here, Scott Johnson does a little pruning. (Just kidding.)

If you had no sunlight, dirt, water, or seeds, could you create a bed of flowers? Scott Johnson can. He’s the master behind our popular Glass Flower Garden Centerpiece, a stunning sculpture with multi-colored flowers “sprouting” out from the base. Scott has always loved sculpting. It stems back to his childhood, watching his father mold clay in their home. Naturally, Scott started crafting with clay, but the more he experimented with new materials, the more inspired he became. That’s when he discovered glass. He was mesmerized by the way a solid could turn to a liquid and finally into a work of art. Once he found his medium (or his medium found him), he began creating one-of-a-kind pieces to decorate your home.

We had the pleasure of speaking with Scott about his process, inspiration, and “bendy,” a trusty makeshift tool he can’t live without. Read on for more.

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Gift Guides

17 Gifts in an Exclusive Relationship with UncommonGoods

January 24, 2018

Finding a gift that feels truly unique can be a bit of a toughie sometimes. With all the flowers, chocolates, and hearts that populate the gift-giving landscape every February, what’s to separate one Valentine’s Day good from another? Plenty, we think, and “where you found it” is one of the many metrics we swear by. That’s why we’ve assembled an assortment of our favorite romantic goodies you can only get at UncommonGoods. Read on to uncover 17 of our best exclusive gifts for this Valentine’s Day, from polychromatic pillows to seductive paperweights, with plenty of ground covered in between.

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Design

Modern Love: The Lovebox Spinning Heart Messenger

January 22, 2018

Unless you were the most popular kid in junior high, you probably remember every love note you ever sent or received—the anticipation as you unfolded it to read, the ritual of clutching it like a holy relic from your crush. The makers of Lovebox set out to capture that giddy feeling with an eye-catching, modern design that makes it easy to share your heart.

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Design

Industrial Design Student Hannah Giancola Wins UncommonGoods’
Spring 2018 Scholarship

January 19, 2018

We’re always on the lookout for the next great design. Of course, great designs don’t create themselves. Learning to craft something beautiful takes patience, time, and willingness to learn. We’re proud of all the dedicated folks out there committed to learning to do what they love. That’s part of the reason we started our UncommonGoods Scholarship program last spring.

UncommonGoods Scholarship Winner Hannah Giancola, photos by Will Cornfield

This time around, our scholarship team was wowed by the beauty of winner Hannah Giancola‘s furniture design. We loved the Mid-century modern-inspired look of the table she entered and her story tugged at our heart strings. Hannah, who created the table with her grandmother’s house in mind, received $1,000 to use toward continuing her education at Rochester Institute of Technology in New York, where she’s currently enrolled as an industrial design major.

We asked Hannah to share a little more about her career aspirations, her love of design, and how her grandma’s glass table inspired the piece that earned her this award. Check out our Q&A with Hannah below to learn more.

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