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The Uncommon Life

Something Special Happens When Two B Corps Join Forces

May 8, 2015

Editor’s note: Daniela De Marco is the Director of Marketing at ecojot, the folks that helped us bring you our exclusive City Prints by artist Carolyn Gavin. In this guest post, Daniela explains what it means to be a B Corp and how B Corps can work together to “B the Change” that they want to see in the world.

San Francisco City Print

First, you may be thinking what are B Corps? “B Corps are certified by the non-profit B Lab to meet rigorous standards of social and environmental performance, accountability, and transparency.” That means that B Corps are assessed for their impact on the environment, workers, customers, community and governance. When we here at ecojot joined the Certified B Corporation community in 2011 we knew that we weren’t just validating our good business practices. We were spreading the word to inspire other businesses and people to follow the lead in redefining success in business.

B Corp

As a B Corp we are rigorously assessed for our better businesses practices. Whether it’s ensuring we live up to our GIVE Program initiatives, making our products locally, keeping them green, or treating our employees respectfully. B Corporation is not just another certification to stamp on our products. Instead, it’s a movement for change, to make better choices when it comes to business, people, and our environment.

Best of all, special things happen when you’re a B Corp. We are automatically part of a movement that is changing the way business operates for the better. We get opportunities to discover and collaborate across nations with like-minded businesses that may not have been possible. With these collaborations we are spreading the word even further.

Check out the B Corp Anthem video to see what we mean:

When we met with the people at UncommonGoods we were over the moon excited for the opportunity to work together. Not only do we get to partner with an insanely well-known organization who can help grow our artist, Carolyn Gavin’s vision for our happy earth friendly ecojot brand, but they are a B Corp too! Meaning we share the same values to give you, our consumers, a product you’ll love, enjoy, and be proud of.
Carolyn St Lucia

Carolyn signing and giving out workbooks to the children of St. Lucia. A Rainforest of Learning trip hosted by OneWorld Schoolhouse Foundation that ecojot proudly supported in 2013 through the GIVE Program.

OneWorld Schoolhouse Foundatoin

The faces of the ecojot team together with OneWorld Schoolhouse as we packed over 100 boxes full of school supplies for the children of St. Lucia and Grenada.

SchoolBags for Kids in HaitiMark Gavin, Carolyn’s brother and co-founder of ecojot visited children in Haiti in 2012 and 2013 together with SchoolBags for Kids. Providing over 33,000 workbooks and over 20,000 pens.

Without further ado, this spring we exclusively launched City Print designs by our uber-talented artist Carolyn Gavin with fellow awesome B Corp UncommonGoods, who have gone over and beyond in working with us to create a set of beautiful thick stock, Portland made, sustainable wall prints that capture the colors and cultural of the cities.

Carolyn Gavin | City Prints

Carolyn’s process involves painting and hand lettering each landmark separately. She then combines them into a bright map-style design. Watch her in action as she listens to music by harpist Brandee Younger and paints San Francisco’s Japanese Tea Garden.

Whether you want to adorn your walls with the fresh sights of San Francisco, or the magic of Paris, find Carolyn’s ten popular cities here. To find other socially responsible businesses in your area and online, check out the B Corp Community.

Gift Guides

Better Than Brunch: Creative Mother’s Day Gift Ideas

April 26, 2015

Better Than Brunch: Creative Mother's Day Gifts | UncommonGoods

There’s one day a year that’s dedicated to all moms; this year, May 10 is that day. Mother’s Day may be a nation-wide holiday to honor the women who raised us, but that certainly doesn’t mean that there’s one gift that’s perfect for every mom. (OK, so maybe most moms are into the whole traditional Mother’s Day brunch thing, but who doesn’t love celebratory food? Treating her to pancakes is just a start.)

We rounded up all kinds of creative gift ideas to help you give mom a gift as unique as she is this year.

2015 Mother's Day Gift Ideas | UncommonGoods

Give Mom a Moment

Remember when you were a kid and you watched your mom balance what seemed like a million tasks at once? Whether she was picking you up from soccer practice on her way home from a long day at work or changing your little brother’s diapers while hoping the pot on the stove didn’t boil over in the 30 seconds she wasn’t looking, it’s likely that mom had very few moments to herself. Now that you’re all grown up, it’s not guaranteed that her life has slowed down any, but at least you can give her a gift that encourages her to remember to take a moment for herself every now and then.

 

Spa Experience Tin | Uncommongoods

 

Mom deserves to be pampered, and the Spa Experience Tin has just what it takes. Complete with Lavender Goat’s Milk Bath Tea, Bath Truffle, Wedding Cake Whispered Shea Crème, and Hint of Mint Lip Balm, this pretty package will transform her next soak into a relaxing retreat.

Meditation Box | UncommonGoods

There was a time when mom probably told you not to track sand into the house. While your dirty shoes used to stress mom out, this sand will do just the opposite. | Meditation Box

Tea Bag Pocket Mug | UncommonGoods

A hot cup of tea can be a nice start to a laid back afternoon or the perfect ending to a busy day. Either way, it’s even better when it’s drip-covered saucer free. | Tea Bag Pocket Mug

Green Tea Kit | UncommonGoods

Take tea time tranquility even further with the Green Herbal Tea Kit.  (Nine herbs and three types of tea further, to be more specific.)

New Mom

Whether you’re shopping for a brand new mother, or a mother who is just getting to know her second or third newborn, these mementos will help her celebrate the journey ahead!

Birthstone Wishing Balls | UncommonGoods

 

Mom can’t control everything that happens in her baby’s future, but she will always be wishing for the absolute best. Each shimmering ball of hand-blown glass comes with 52 tiny slips of paper for her to pause once a week throughout the year and record a message of hope or gratitude. | Birthstone Wishing Balls

 

Sterling Silver Teething Keepsake Necklace | UncommonGoods

We all know that newborns are excited to touch everything, both with their mouths and hands! So why not get jewelry that mom and baby can cherish? The cold sterling silver ring soothes baby’s teething gums, while a gentle rattling sound keeps babies entertained. | Sterling Silver Teething Keepsake Necklace 

Birthstone Definition Necklace | UncommonGoods

Did you know that the gemstones we associate with our birthmonths were also believed by the mystics to carry special meanings and even supernatural powers? Any new Mom needs all the super powers she can get! (Find out what her little one’s birthstone means here.) | Birthstone Definition Necklace 

I Heart You, Mom

There are so many ways to say I love you, but how many ways can you show her? 

A Mother's Love is Beyond Measure Spoon Set | UncommonGoods

Because a mother’s love is like a spoonful of sugar, the best kind of medicine! | A Mother’s Love is Beyond Measure Spoon Set 

What I Love About Mom By Me Book | UncommonGoods

It might be impossible to count all the ways, but this book will give you a great start. (Don’t forget to share the love with Grandma!) | What I Love About Mom By Me Book

Heart Book Box | UncommonGoods

This surprise will be sure to make this a Mother’s Day for the books! | Heart Book Box

 

What The Future Holds Love Locket | UncommonGoods

Whatever the future holds, this pendant will always keep your love close to her heart. | What The Future Holds Love Locket

The Art of Motherhood

We probably don’t have to tell you that parenting is a pretty tough job. It’s certainly not an exact science, but it might be a bit of an art form. Show your mama that you admire her colorful personality, creative problem solving, and technical expertise with a bit of art appreciation.

Bouquet by Wendy Gold | UncommonGoods

Flowers on Mother’s Day will make mom smile. Wendy Gold’s Bouquet will ensure that that smile is from ear to ear.

The Last Slice | UncommonGoodsIt may be true that no one knows how to bake a pie quite like mom, but artist Kendyll Hillegas is a pro when it comes to painting them. (Learn more about the artist here.) | The Last Slice

You Are Beautiful | UncommonGoods

Your mom is beautiful. Don’t let her forget it! | You Are Beautiful by Matthew Hoffman

Earth Mother

For the mothers who nurture Mother Earth, these picks will be sure to make their hearts bloom even brighter.

Birds and Bloom State Pillow | UncommonGoods

Just because you’ve left the nest doesn’t mean you can’t celebrate the flora and fauna of mom’s home. | Birds and Blooms Pillows – Individual States

Pocket Wall Vases | UncommonGoods

It turns out that there are many beautiful perks to being a wallflower. | Pocket Wall Vases

Dandelion Paperweight | UncommonGoods

That moment when you make a wish and blow a dried dandelion into a thousand little pieces | Dandelion Paperweight

Pottery Birdhouse | UncommonGoods

Remember when mom used to read you stories about princesses who would get dressed in the morning with the help of beautiful hummingbirds? Well, you might not be able to bring her fairy tales to life, but you can give her favorite birds somewhere to sing. | Pottery Birdhouse

Strawberry Windowsill Growbox | UncommonGoods

A stretch of window sill, abundant sun, and a little patience are all mom needs to celebrate the fruit of her labors. | Strawberry Windowsill Growbox

Do It Herselfer 

For the Pinterest-loving, get-her-hands-dirty, jump-right-in kinda mom who is always up for a DIY challenge.

Himalayan Salt Foot Care Set | UncommonGoods

Because no matter what, mom is always putting her best foot forward. | Himalayan Salt Foot Care Set

26636_main

 

With only a few DIY components, Mom can create an efficient device to monitor when the family’s toilet paper inventory is running low, amongst other applications. Need we say more? | Modular Smart Home Kit 

26274_BirdieYarnBowlKnittingKit

Keep calm and knit on! | Birdie Yarn Bowl Knitting Kit

Nerdy Mom

Maybe she loves sci-fi or is always the first in line for the latest gadget. Maybe she’s ever on the lookout for another piece of great literature to add to her home library or the newest research on her favorite area of study. Whatever her preferred form of geekdom, she’ll be happy to see that she raised you to show nerd pride AND great taste.

Literary Scarves | UncommonGoods

 

Mom’s more of a literati than a fashionista (and proud of it!). Let her show off her classic style with a Literary Scarf printed with pages from one of her favorite classic books.

Smartphone Vase | UncommonGoodsIt’s easy to add a little nature to her tech-filled world, even if your thoroughly modern mommy likes to keep her smartphone nearby on her nightstand or end table. | Bedside Smartphone Vase

Zodiac Embroidery Hoop Art | UncommonGoods

 

Mom is the brightest star on Mother’s Day, but she’s OK with sharing the sky with the constellations. | Zodiac Embroidery Hoop Art

 

Silver Solar System Necklace | UncommonGoods

If your science-loving mom is the first to jump in on any discussion about Pluto’s declassification, she’ll love this Sterling Silver Solar System Necklace. The “ninth planet” is present in this pretty line-up of celestial charms, making it an uncommon way to spark conversations about Pluto’s fate.

Mom Who Has It All

Whether mom is the most stylish person you know, or the most beloved hostess there is, these conversation starters won’t fail to impress!

Porcelain Bird Bud Vases | UncommonGoods

Whether or not she has it all, the last thing any mom wants to have is a water leak to clean up. This beautifully designed vase always ensures a beautiful, leak-free presentation! | Porcelain Bird Bud Vase 

26618_ManhattanBrdgeScarf

Bridging the worlds of fashion accessory and art canvas, this is the piece mom didn’t even know she was missing. | Manhattan Bridge Scarf

Recycled Glass Elephant Night Light | UncommonGoods

Because she’ll always protect you and your herd, no matter what. | Recycled Glass Elephants Night Light 

Bread and Butterfly Serving Board | UncommonGoods

A party accessory that will be sure to make her heart flutter. | Bread & Butter(fly) Serving Board

Because You Treasure Her

Giving mom a bracelet or necklace might seem a little old school at first, but these new pieces put a unique twist on traditional Mother’s jewelry.

Sea Glass Sterling Clasp Bracelet | UncommonGoods

The phrase “I’m turning into my mother” gets a bad wrap, but it can be a good thing. Show her that you’re glad to be two of a kind with a Sea Glass Sterling Clasp Bracelet featuring two beautiful pieces of found sea glass.

 

 Silver Dreamcatcher Pendant | UncommonGoods

Thank mom for encouraging you to always follow your dreams with a piece to help her catch hers. | Silver Dream Catcher Pendant 

Mother BirdFamily Necklace | UncommonGoodsYour mama bird took care of  you for a long time before you left the nest. Now you’ve spread your wings, but you’ll never fly too far away. | Mother Bird Family Necklace

My Lucky Stars Necklace | UncommonGoods

You thank your lucky stars to have such a fantastic mother. We bet she feels the same way about you. | My Lucky Stars Necklace 

 

See More Gifts Mom Will Love!

 

Maker Stories

High Society: Elegant Roach Clip Jewelry Designs

April 17, 2015

More than any other word, “roaring” is used to describe the 1920s. But despite the word being synonymous with “boisterous” and “rowdy,” mention of the decade usually conjures images of sophisticated parties, Art Deco, and beautiful women in stylish clothing dancing the Charleston. Sure, the parties may have been fueled by bootlegged booze and a crazy new style of music, but tales of the Jazz Age often leave today’s daydreamers feeling nostalgia for the class and culture of a decade gone by.

Erin Rose Gardner in her studio light | UncommonGoods

Intrigued by the melding of sophistication and excess that made the ‘20s such an interesting time, Erin Rose Gardner created a line of Art Deco jewelry “inspired by the significant changes in lifestyle & culture” of the period. This is a good place to mention that each piece in this collection of elegant designs also serves as a fully functional roach clip.


Mary Jane's Necklace by Erin Rose Gardner | UncommonGoods

One of these significant changes was the ratification of the 18th Amendment, which ushered in prohibition. During the 1920s it was illegal to manufacture, sell, or transport alcohol. Of course, prohibition eventually came to an end when the 21st amendment repealed its predecessor, and now adults across the nation are free to drink gin that didn’t get its kick in a bathtub.

Today the temperance movement against alcoholic beverage seems like the distant past, considering the prevalence of bars and nightclubs across the country, pop culture references to imbibing, and even some evidence that drinking in moderation can actually be good for you.

Erin’s work speaks to a sort of modern prohibition that’s happening now, the war on pot. “The modern prohibition movement is part of the current conversation,” said Erin. “It seems like we may be at the beginning of the end with individual states voting for legalization. I find it interesting to think about how political policies shift social norms.”

Erin working in her studio.
Studying metalsmithing and jewelry at the University of Oregon gave Erin training not only in the technical aspect of her craft, but also foundations in conceptualization and research. “With my work, I am constantly looking for connections and meaning,” she explained. “As a producer of maker-made objects, I want to create things that people find beautiful and well-crafted, but also interesting.”

The layered story of Erin’s Mary Jane’s Necklace and Earrings may seem to start with the style of the ‘20s and a commentary on modern prohibition, but the “connections and meaning” she spoke of go even deeper. In fact, according to Erin, the designs were born from a personal narrative:

It started over ten years ago, I stole my mother’s roach clip. She had not used it in years, but kept it poked into a houseplant as it held sentimental value. As a child I thought this thing was a toy or special pair of medical tweezers. Although I wasn’t sure what it was, I did know this metal thing was special because it was a gift from her sister when they were teenagers. When my parents separated, my mom forgot her roach clip in the plant, so I took it. I lost it within four hours and never told her. (She now knows because my baby sister is a tattletale!)

An online image search lead to a vintage clip that looked like Erin’s mother’s made by a company called Squirkenworks run by furniture artist Garry Knox Bennett. Erin became interested in how the artist questioned the “preciousness” of craft and explored non-traditional materials. Squirkenworks sold electroplated roach clips across the country and still operates today as Gold Seal Plating. “The passive income provided by this business has allowed Bennett the freedom make furniture that pushes boundaries and is not constrained by market expectations,” Erin explained.

Each of Erin’s own clips is completely handmade and features a unique sliding mechanism inspired by the one Garry Knox Bennett invented in the 1960s. (She actually had the opportunity to meet Bennett, discuss her project, and take a look at this collection of clips and other works when she visited him in Oakland, CA last summer.)

Erin's Anvil

Using a hammer and anvil, Erin shapes simple brass rods into elegant contours. “I strive for perfect symmetry and function as I make each individual pendant or earring,” she said. “Each piece features a unique sliding mechanism. Simply pull the slide back and the clip springs open. Then to clip, move the slider forward and the device is tightly secured. The tips are serrated which gives optimal grip.” The brass is transformed again during the final step in the artist’s process, when she polishes each piece and electroplates it with 24k gold.

Erin's Materials
Erin commented that, like “every metalsmith,” she fell in love with the material. It’s easy to see this love, and her dedication to the process, when you look at the detail in each handcrafted piece. The collection appeals not only to those with 1920s fashion sense or fond memories of the roach clips that became popular in the ‘60s. The designs are fully functional for the enjoyment of those in legal territory, statement pieces for marijuana legalization supporters, and—as Erin put it herself—“well crafted, but also interesting” adornments for those looking for high quality, uncommon jewelry.



Erin Rose Gardner | UncommonGoods

Maker Stories

This Just In-spiration: Meet Carolyn Gavin

April 6, 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 Carolyn Gavin, the artist behind our new City Prints.

Carolyn Gavin | UncommonGoods

 Carolyn Gavin photo by Virginia Macdonald /Instagram

When did you know you wanted to be an artist?
I knew at a very early age–maybe 3 or 4–that I wanted to be an artist. It just looked like a really cool something to do. I had watched my aunt do her
graphic design thing and I was instantly hooked! I watched as she drew, painted, cut and paste, and created beautiful images. From then on everything I did was fueled by my desire to create and the joy I felt in the process. I also come from a very creative family and we all seem to do something with the arts so its in my blood for sure.

What was the most exciting thing about becoming a professional artist?
Looking back, there have been many amazing milestones… here are 3:
1) Launching my family company Ecojot was incredibly exciting and very timely.
2) Getting signed by my fabulous agent Lilla Rogers Studios. I knew then that I had come a long way; not necessarily arrived but somewhere in-between.
3) Being able to actually earn a living from my design work. [It] is hugely possible to do if you have a great style and are willing to work like a “dog” to get there.

What does your typical day in the studio look like?
Paint, paper, brushes, computer, water, snacks, dog toys, bulldog, sunshine, and happiness.

Is there a trinket, talisman, or other inspirational object you keep near? If so, what is it and what does it mean to you?
My studio is filled with colorful things and stuff to inspire me. I have a sweet collection of precious stones which I keep close by plus a tin butterfly pin from my childhood and a tiny brass whale my daughter and husband found at a garage sale in Montreal.

City Prints by Carolyn Gavin | UncommonGoodsSan Francisco City Print by Carolyn Gavin

Imagine you just showed your work to a kindergartner for the first time. What do you think they would say?
“Mmm, colorful and good!”

What quote or mantra keeps you motivated?
I have a few, but I LOVE:
“The harder you work, the luckier you get.” – Gary Player
“The pure and simple truth is rarely pure and never simple.” – Oscar Wilde
“Meet your needs and limit your wants.” – Gandhi

 

Buy Carolyn's Prints | UncommonGoods

Maker Stories

Ali Bennaim and Ximena Chouza: Out-of-this World Fashion

March 17, 2015

Inspired and entranced by the breathtaking splendor of outer space, Ali Bennaim and Ximena Chouza bring the marvels of the universe down to Earth in the form of interstellar accessories. The makers met while attending Parsons the New School for Design in New York and bonded over their captivation with the cosmos and their passion for fashion. Although Ali is from Caracas, Venezuela, and Ximena is from Mexico City, after graduating they set up shop in Brooklyn where they design unique textiles that take their cues from the majesty and mystery of the universe.

Ali Bennaim and Ximena Chouza | UncommonGoods

The self-proclaimed “space-crazed” duo explore the vast archive of images captured by NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope. This invaluable astronomical tool orbits outside the distortion of Earth’s atmosphere, capturing high-resolution photographs that have led to many breakthroughs in astrophysics. Some of these luminous shots, such as the phases of the moon, were snapped close to home, while others that capture stellar celestial bodies and vast networks of gas clouds thousands of light years away offer us a deep view into space and time.

Hubble Telescope Milky Way Scarf | UncommonGoods

 Hubble Telescope Milky Way Scarf

 

Ali and Ximena say that working with these incredible views of space is the most rewarding part of their process. “These are very special and beautiful images and we are grateful to be able to work with them,” they say. After preparing the photographs digitally for printing, the designers apply the imagery to feather-light wool gauze scarves that are cut and finished by hand.

The starry-eyed pair is committed to sourcing their materials and producing everything in their home base of the Big Apple. “We always make sure that our materials are of the best quality we can get,” they say. “Most people are very impressed by the quality and vibrancy of our prints.”

Designing the Milkyway Scarf

Though they may have lofty ambitions, they also say that they’ll never forget their earthly beginnings and aim to remain environmentally conscious. They employ a waste-saving technique, carefully designing every accessory to make the most of every inch of fabric, leaving next to nothing for the landfill.

Maker Stories

Inside the Artist’s Studio with Richard Upchurch

March 12, 2015

Richard Upchurch | UncommonGoods

As UncommonGoods photographer Emily and I made our way to visit Richard Upchurch’s studio, our cab driver quizzed us on some of the local neighborhood acronyms. “Do you know what Tribeca stands for?” he stared at us in his rear-view mirror. “Triangle below Canal Street,” we laughed. “What about Dumbo?” “Down under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass.” we said in unison. “Do you know why this neighborhood is called Red Hook?” he mused as we turned down a one-way street lined with rugged facades. We were stumped. “Because of all these brick buildings?” I guessed. “I don’t think so!” he teased. “But seriously, I’m not sure. Do you know?” he peered back in the mirror.

Out of guesses, I stared out the window at the jumble of modern and old-fashioned storefronts. With its scattered cobblestone streets and uncanny industrial vibe (a holdover from when it was a busy shipping center), I felt like I was back in my old Pittsburgh neighborhood. That is, until I saw the beautiful view of New York Bay and the Statue of Liberty directly across from the studio’s dome shaped doors. 

Richard Upchurch | UncommonGoods

Richard introduced himself with a comforting flair of southern hospitality. As soon as he learned about Emily’s Georgia roots, he started describing his favorite Georgia venues where he had previously performed as a touring musician, setting the stage for an afternoon with one of the best storytellers either of us had met in a long time. He walked us around his studio and described how Lil’ MibZoots, and Loopy Lou grew from blocks of wood into sound recording gadgets. He related the first days of his business brandnewnoise, and how it’s grown to become an influential internship provider for inner-city students. He gave us the inside scoop behind the bright green frog in the center of his workstation. (A project that involved a crazy collaboration with Wayne Coyne from The Flaming Lips!) We pointed to his old wooden thumb piano, among other oddities, and he elaborated with charming, sentimental tales. He pointed toward his favorite barbecue joint across the street, distinguishing all of the clandestine spots that make Red Hook so special. With each new story, he built the kind of environment that made us want to settle into rocking chairs, crack open beers, and chat about life. After meeting Richard, I am not surprised that he decided to set up shop in a neighborhood that’s so full of history, character, and unexpected treasures.

Whether you’re looking for creative inspiration, or just hoping to get a sneak peek into an artist’s everyday life, you’re in good company. Pull up your favorite chair, sit back, and enjoy our tour of Richard’s Brooklyn Studio.

Continue Reading…

Maker Stories

Diving into Holly Hansen’s Winning Artwork

March 3, 2015

Swimming III | UncommonGoods

Simplistic as it may be, I firmly believe in Isak Dinesen’s philosophy that “the cure for anything is salt water – sweat, tears, or the sea.”  I am happiest when soaking up vitamin D near any body of water. Growing up in south Florida triggered my deep love for the ocean and my fascination with marine life. Though I’ve grown to appreciate all landscapes, there’s no environment that I find more restorative than a pristine beach.

I was inevitably captivated by Swimming III, Holly Hansen’s winning Art Design Challenge entry. I was not surprised to learn that the young artist grew up around Cape Cod. Her ability to effortlessly reflect the layers of the ocean from dawn to dusk suggests that she shares a similar affinity for the sea shore. This piece made me feel instantly nostalgic for the days where I’ve freely floated in the ocean like a mermaid, trusting the waves to flow my body along the beach until my sun-kissed skin turned pruney at sunset. It’s because of this nostalgia that I admire the reason behind Holly’s decision to use a monotype method for this piece: its spontaneity allowed her to “let go of a lot of control” and gain more flexibility. This piece is an experiment that worked…swimmingly! At it’s core, it’s such a refreshing example of the dynamic energy within this beloved landscape. Read on to meet Art Design Challenge Winner Holly Hansen, and learn about her artistic influences, her go-to inspiration triggers, and her uncanny knack for spotting four-leaf clovers.

Holly Hansen | UncommonGoods

How did you come up with the concept of your winning piece?
Swimming III is the final piece of a triptych. With this series, I focused on creating mood and atmosphere in my landscapes in ways I hadn’t attempted before. Previously, I worked primarily in etching, but for this series I chose monotype for its spontaneity. I was able to work with landscape in a refreshing and flexible way. With such a responsive medium, I could let go of a lot of control. The series was an experiment, but it sent me off in the right direction.

Can you tell us 3 fun, random facts about yourself?
1. I am THE BEST at finding four leaf clovers. I will take any challengers, especially since people have given up on looking with me.

2. Most of us are familiar with synesthesia, that scene in Ratatouille where Remy sees dancing colors when he eats something delicious. I have visual motion-to-sound synesthesia. It’s like having sound effects to everything I can see, that only I can hear. Almost like a cartoon.

3. I’m 23 and I still order Shirley Temples at bars.

What different techniques do you use when creating your art?
I am very attracted to mark making. A large portion of creating an image is finding the most exciting pairs of marks to sit next to each other. I use several different tools to create marks. I push myself the most when I’m drawing. I try many techniques to push myself out of my comfort zone. At one point I was standing above my desk with a .005mm Micron pen taped to my longest brush, drawing on a 22” x 40” piece of printmaking paper. Whether it’s flying through drawing after drawing, or having four pieces of Bristol taped to the desk and one palette of gouache, nothing was said in one articulate statement. It feels more like pulling adjectives out of no where and throwing in nouns you had no idea mattered to you in a stuttering, clumsy, and heartfelt argument. After all that’s said and done, I have the right momentum to approach my primary piece at that time.

Holly Hansen | UncommonGoods

Describe your workspace.
I made Swimming III while I was still in school, and could utilize their extensive print shop 24/7. Now I’m just working at my desk at home or out in observation. I don’t have access to a print studio, but things are much more spontaneous and open minded. I’m in a phase where I’m less focused on creating finished images as finding new things that interest me. I went through a phase where I was picking up whatever fabric I had left on the ground near my desk and scanning it. It’s just a baby seal plush and some fake furs pressed against glass, but I’m having so much fun.

Who or what are your influences?
Anyone who is really pushing themselves to make something they haven’t done before. In that way, I studied the way artists progressed over time, specifically focusing on Sally Mann and Andrew Wyeth. You could do the same with with Miley Cyrus or Taylor Swift. I love seeing the determination and passion in those who seek growth.

Holly Hansen | UncommonGoods

Can you walk us through the step by step process of creating Swimming III?
Swimming III was specifically a search for different ways to use a large roller to create an image in monotype. Instead of using a small roller to cover the plexi, or a large roller in one big sweep, I challenged myself. I found the biggest roller I could physically hold. Doubling back and layering with the roller unintentionally led to the four distinct segments of the piece. The series involved several experiments with a large roller, each piece having multiple layers of monotype, drypoint on plexi, and hand-drawing.

Holly Hansen | UncommonGoods

What’s your favorite feedback that someone has said about something you created?
A gallery owner who had never seen my work began one of my school final reviews with: “I had no idea there were young artists interested in landscape. I mean landscape? It’s refreshing to see someone try and make their own voice in something so well established.” That was the first time somebody had recognized my intentions. It’s hard to gain respect working in landscape, but I see it as a challenge to create your own voice in a popular genre.

Holly Hansen | UncommonGoods

What are your hobbies outside of art?
I love cooking. You’re learning a skill through experience, just like making art, except you get to eat it. And if you mess up? There’s no one to disappoint but some taste buds. It can be very meditative, focused, or carefree. Whatever you need to do to end your insane day and please your stomach. And I love to take care of my plants and succulents.

Creative people all have those days (or weeks!) when we feel lost, unmotivated, or stuck. How do you keep yourself inspired when you’re in a rut?
I hang everything I’ve been working on around the studio and look. Then I go to an artist’s supply store and look. If that doesn’t work, I leave the city, go back to the Cape, and look.

Holly Hansen | UncommonGoods

Maker Stories

Fernanda Sibilia: The Tango, Fileteado, and Freedom From Fashion

February 27, 2015

While some artists and designers have to go out of their way to find inspiration—venturing out to museums or into breathtaking natural settings to rekindle their creative spark—Argentinian jewelry maker Fernanda Sibilia says “inspiration is easy in Buenos Aires” where she has her studio. It’s in the Abasto district, named for the Mercado de Abasto, which was the main fruit and vegetable market for the city for nearly a century. Now a fashionable mall, it remains a focus of tradition and vibrant urban life for Buenos Aires.

Fernanda Sibilia | UncommonGoods

Fernanda observes that Buenos Aires offers many layers of inspiration—natural, architectural, and cultural. “The sky is blue almost every day, and the trees have a different color each season,” she says. “My favorite month is November, when our trees bloom…Jacaranda, Palo Borracho, and Tipas, one after the other.” This vivid natural palette is rivaled only by the colorfully decorated buildings of the fileteado porteño style, where entire facades are adorned with elaborate ribbons, fanciful dragons, and floral arabesques. The spirit of fileteado also finds its way into the patinated floral surfaces of some of Fernanda’s jewelry.

Embossed Patina Cuff Bracelets | UncommonGoods

Fileteado | Wikimedia

Buenos Aires, rue Jean Jaures 709 (Paseo del Filete) façade painted by Tulio Ovando, Wikimedia Commons

Fernanda’s Abasto neighborhood is also associated with the blossoming of the tango in Buenos Aires, a sensuous tradition of music and dance that can be glimpsed in some of her designs where the gestural twisting and layering of metals produces alluringly sinuous forms. She says that she “feels like an alchemist” when combining the qualities of different metals, and “love[s] mixing the green of patina, the red of copper, the yellowish brown of brass, and the iridescences of oxides.”

Cerro Statement Necklace | UncommonGoods

Whatever the influences on her work, Fernanda makes an intriguing distinction between modes of inspiration, saying, “I try to be near art rather than fashion. This makes me enjoy simple things without being aware of trends, so I’m aesthetically independent.” Essentially, she’s pursuing a timelessness in her designs, steering them away from the mercurial influence of fashion, avoiding the limited shelf life of ever-shifting trends.

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