Atlanta Maker Event – call for participants

A local charter school is hosting a Maker event this Spring and is looking for participants. Do you do carpentry, metalwork, large scale art projects? Do you craft or work with your hands? Know sewing, canning, or how to build a solar oven? If so, they want YOU!


and if you further want to inspire the kids of this local charter school, there is also a maker career day:

spread the word, let’s get kids interested in building, making, designing!

Little Free Libraries

Have you heard about the “Little Free Library” project?

Leave a book, take a book, the ultimate in recycling literacy!
from their website, their mission is:

To promote literacy and the love of reading by building free book exchanges worldwide.
To build a sense of community as we share skills, creativity, and wisdom across generations
To build more than 2,510 libraries around the world – more than Andrew Carnegie–and then more.

You can find a map of all the sites above, as well as instructions on how to build your own. I’m thinking of building one next door in the empty lot, since we get a lot of foot traffic on our street. Or, maybe down by the bus station.

Ollie says Reading is good!

How do I Recycle??

So a friend just posted a link to a LA times feature where they pick an object each week and tell you where and how to recycle it. I think that’s pretty amazing, since it can be hard to figure out how to recycle some stuff, and there are a lot of things people don’t realize you CAN recycle (as we found out during the Earth Day festival…)

I have just been inspired to create a new blog feature! I guess it will have to focus on City of Atlanta and maybe Fulton and Dekalb counties if I can get enough info. It would also be kind of fun to post things made from those objects that can be re-used in addition to recycled.

yay inspiration! I’ll start on Wednesday…

Tapis Rouge

I’m currently brainstorming ways to cover my little corner in ART, both temporary and permanent, and I just love this!

found via Treehugger:

Tapis rouge ! from Gaëlle Villedary on Vimeo.

“Tapis rouge!’ was a 2011 temporary art installation by Marseille-based artist, Gaëlle Villedary….

The living carpet was rolled out to celebrated the 10th anniversary of the art and nature trail program of the French town of Jaujac.”


One thing I’ve heard repeated over and over, and usually in derogatory terms, is that the “occupiers” don’t have a clear message. Personally, I always thought that pulling it all down to a few specific “demands” was not only premature and limiting, but a way to destroy the movement, fracturing it into a thousand little pieces from the inside. I mean, when we built this country, it started with a group of people saying eff the current government. None of our most important treatises were exactly written overnight. This quote is what really struck me as most true:

You can’t just say “We demand a world of peace. Demands have to be specific. Anything that people can articulate can only be articulated within the language of the current political discourse. And that entire political discourse is already too small. And that’s why making explicit demands reduces the movement, and takes the heart out of it. So it’s a real paradox, and I think the movement understands that.

There was another bit in there that I think is incredibly relevant right now – the part where he’s talking about how we buy everything, and no one knows who makes it, no one knows their neighbors, and yet so many people don’t have jobs, and so few feel actually fulfilled in theirs:

Everybody wants to live a life of meaning. And today, we live in a money economy where we don’t really depend on the gifts of anybody. But we buy everything. Therefore we don’t really need anybody, because whoever grew my food, or made my clothes, or built by house, well if they die, or if I alienate them, or if they don’t like me, that’s okay because I can just pay someone else to do it.

And it’s really hard to create community if the underlying knowledge is “we don’t need each other.” So people kind of get together and act nice, or maybe they consume together. But joint consumption doesn’t create intimacy. Only joint creativity and gifts create intimacy and connection.

If you look around and what sectors of the population are trying to do via farmer’s markets, farm to table organizations, co-ops, even local craft fairs, and what Etsy started out as, you see people looking for connections in what they consume, and the makers looking for outlets to make the work they consider valid something that can support them.

It’s hard to say what will ultimately become of this movement, but this video contains messages that I hope will remain heard. These ideas need to make their way into the mainstream, and to take hold.

More videos and info here:

30 days, 30 upcycled projects
what a great blog, and a great idea.

You can even join in… they’ll keep the project going as long as people keep submitting!

Here we create one product per day out of discarded material. Our goal is to design beautiful and useful things for 30 days in a row. For everyone who collaborates and sends us their project, the blog will be extended for one day. Find trash, be creative and post your masterpieces!

these bracelets are from Day 3, made out of tin cans by Magdalena and Lisa. So pretty!

the throwaway society

There’s been quite the discussion floating around several blogs I read, all sparked by one comment in which a woman laid into a “green” design blog for featuring a rather expensive Eames armchair.
Treehugger summed it up pretty well by summarizing Oscar Wilde’s lament that people know the price of everything, but the value of nothing.

Both articles and the comments are pretty interesting in the range of reactions.
I responded to the ReNest article with this:

I am a maker. Not of furniture or probably anything else you’d ever feature on this blog, but a maker nonetheless. I can’t tell you how many times I have heard that someone could buy “the same” item as something I’m selling at Walmart for half the price.

Sustainability has so many facets and affording those who make the items in question a wage which doesn’t leave them starving is one of those facets. Add in the cost of sustainable materials and this is often why things “green” cost so much more.
From the end-user standpoint, that Eames armchair aside, I’m so tired of household items that can’t be repaired once they’ve broken. I had quite a fight with a toaster before finally coming to the realization that I could not get the parts to fix it because no one made them.
That’s the real crime: Living in a world where things are designed to break, be trashed and replaced. That’s the thing that should make that woman sick to her stomach.

It’s a crazy line to walk; pricing items so you can keep making more and eat while you’re at it, and pricing them so people don’t roll their eyes and walk away. I hope people care that the things I make can be repaired, altered or made into something else when their current life is nearing the end. I hope that me and all my other maker friends are having an impact on our throwaway society. It is one of my biggest dreams, to help change this…

tweeting 140 stitches

There was a little kerfluffle over at Etsy recently over it’s decision to implement more aspects of social media into the shopping experience. People have varying opinions on how serious the privacy issues were, but while I think there was definitely an ‘oops’ moment, I’ll leave the harsh critique to others.

Their efforts to make themselves into something more akin to facebook did, however, make me stop and think about the dichotomy between a site created to sell artisan goods and a world living in 140 character increments.

For many, ‘handcrafted’ conjures an image of items made with care by someone who has taken the time to learn a true skill. Items made by someone taking their time, enjoying the process- creating something they are proud to finish, and hopefully someone else will be proud to own.

Etsy certainly hasn’t lost the image of being a place to find such things, but the dynamic of the site has changed as the site has become more social. It has been easier to find people and easier to curate collections, but perhaps a little harder to find an individual artisan voice in the radiating rings of “Circles.”

On a similar note, I’ve been reading my blogroll via RSS, and while it’s convenient, it’s a habit I’ve decided to give up. The feed-reader removes so much format and is missing the personal touch from viewing the post in the environment it was written for. I miss those little bits of voice – the writer’s equivalent of handmade.

The race to make content of all types appear faster, fit a trending hashtag and be readable on ever-smaller devices is surely having an effect on the creator as well as the audience. If you get paid per click, all you might need to worry about is a catchy headline, but what about the satisfaction from the creative process?

Wasn’t the handmade movement supposed to slow us all down a notch? Did that concept fly away with the failwhale when I wasn’t looking?

The state of the union and the state of handmade

Last night, like many of you, I watched our President deliver his “State of the Union” address. I’ll leave off commentary for most of it (even if my sarcastic side couldn’t help but burst out in laughter at the 80% of energy being renewable by 2035 thing) but one thing that did really pique my interest was his suggestion that we reduce some regulations and codes to make life easier for the small businessperson. Reductions in corporate taxes, reduction of the healthcare regulations regarding 1099’s for money spent, eliminating loopholes, credits for new hires, capital gains… it all starts swimming after a while, but the promise of simplification is a beautiful one.
That said, Mr President, here is one thing you could influence that would help hundreds of VERY small businesses immediately. These small businesses make some of the most important products for the future of our country, in our country, employing other people right here at home.

save handmade toys!!
(photo by flickr user hillarylang -wee wonderfuls)

Yes, I’m talking about the CPSIA again, and next month ends a temporary stay of enforcement put into place when it became clear how UNclear the regulations were. Ending this stay will effectively be killing some of the very entrepreneurs you were waxing so poetically about in your speech, because the regulations are still confusing and contradictory, the testing requirements are not clear, and despite repeated requests for clarification or another stay of enforcement, these mom and pop shops have gotten neither.
Mr President, if you want to do something for the real entrepreneurs in this country, we need an actual vote and another stay of enforcement until these problems can be addressed. One is currently scheduled for January 31st 2011, and your words on this issue could mean the difference between bankruptcy and solvency for many small businesses, as well as the difference in what sort of toys YOUR grandchildren will be allowed to play with.

(if you want to send your own letter to the people with the power to solve this problem, there’s a great one here.)