Category: things we make

Mr. Driver’s Vinegar and Tonic

Tuesday 01.20.15

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These two elixirs come courtesy of my friend David Driver: multi-talented designer, musician, performer, writer, etc. They were some of the finest, most welcome presents from Christmas. A homemade gift stands out from the rest, and, with this magnificent packaging, I bet you’d be hard-pressed to dispute it. David is a genius at re-purposing nearly everything (he alone gives the term “Frugal Yankee” a good name!). I would never have guessed that these containers are actually Schweppe’s tonic water bottles. He insists that they are cheaper than Seagram’s. I haven’t yet sampled the vinegar, but I do know that it’s a concoction from the apple trees on his property. I also know, from experience, that his flu tonic will banish even the most tenacious germ. For a similar recipe, click here.

And Dave…Thanks!

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Variations on a Butter Knife

Monday 01.05.15

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I can’t speak for anyone else out there, but, for me, the iterative process of design is where I find true happiness! So, here are a few recent sketches of a butter knife I plan to carve out of wood. Nothing particularly fancy. Totally functional. This is the way I begin: sketch after sketch after sketch. Fast and not at all precious. Almost bordering on messy. Soft HB pencil. (Please don’t ask me what a pencil is.)

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Alicia Adams Alpaca

Tuesday 05.20.14

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I did a walkabout at the ICFF yesterday. As usual, I didn’t leave myself enough nearly enough time to take a leisurely stroll through the aisles. But, even at an accelerated pace, certain booths stood out far more than others. Oddly enough, this go around I ended up being most drawn to the textiles and rugs. Don’t get me wrong, there were plenty of other designs, and designers, that caught my attention. Alicia Adams Alpaca, by virtue of her color palette alone, was enough to stop me in my tracks. After looking at their site, I think it might be time for a little road trip.

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À Montréal…

Thursday 12.19.13

Better than any museum or guided tour of Montreal was our visit to a really big industrial glass factory. We’re talking production of 500,000 beer bottles in any 24 hour period. This doesn’t include the liquor bottles, mayonnaise jars or other glass vessels that get produced at the same time. I’ve been to a number of factories (glass in particular), but this place was outright SCARY and DANGEROUS and LOUD and GREASY and BEYOND FASCINATING!! I think the word I am looking for here is gobsmacked!

Friends of friends of ours live in Montreal, and the husband works on the line in the factory. He very generously showed us around to every station of the plant. Truly, this was one of the most incredible experiences I have ever had. I do wish the videos were longer and that I could have taken more footage, but I think that would have broken the rules. What really stuck with me was the level of extreme hazard. I’m talking weaponized molten glass! We have come to think of factories as largely automated or adhering to strict safety measures, but this was anything but. One false move and WHAMMO…there goes your finger or your hand or, for that matter, your whole freakin’ arm. And this doesn’t even begin to address the slippery floor. All those machines need lubrication, and it’s inevitable that in the process of doing so, all the other surfaces get covered in many layers of black oil. It immediately brought to mind the book Fast Food Nation, in which the writer Eric Schlosser describes conditions in our nation’s meat packing industry. I have an entirely new level of respect, and concern, for anyone who manufactures the things we use. Especially at an industrial scale. As a contrast to my experience, look at this sanitized, but highly educational video of the glass making process.

Did I mention how hot it was?

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Exploded View

Wednesday 12.18.13

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Sometimes the smallest things grab your attention. When going through the mountain of paper at my mother’s house I came across this tiny folded piece of paper. It was an orphaned set of instructions to a long-ago lost Architector Set #12. The copyright says 1944. I searched online for any reference I could find but came up empty-handed.

Update: I did discover, thanks to Paul (see link in comments), who found a set on ebay, that the Architector Sets were designed by professional architects to encourage young people to pursue that field of study.

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Swatches

Monday 02.04.13

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My friend Nancy is an accomplished surface designer who, over the years, has created a range of hand-painted dinnerware for various clients here and far. I asked her if she would send me the rough swatches of stripes and marks that are a product of her pattern development . She happily complied. This is only the smallest selection from her archive. Again, it’s the process that catches my eye. Sometimes I feel as though we are losing out to technology when it comes to the incremental stages of creativity. Maybe. Maybe not.

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Rhino in Reverse

Monday 05.14.12

The other day The Improvised Life posted this video created by artist Sipho Mabona. There must be an innate fascination with seeing something realtively complex “literally” unfold in reverse.

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