Monday, February 25, 2008

repeat after me: r, r, r

My husband is having an affair with craig and his list.
He faithfully visits The List every morning, coaxing computer keys to reveal the secrets of our neighbors’ garages, searching for the wants and never-knew-we-neededs. I must admit that I have benefited from this reuse relationship, most recently by the find of a metal shelving unit for my studio space (above). Not that I’ll be any more organized, but now I won’t have to dig through boxes searching for tools, and I am quite excited about that.

In the interest of green self-education, I’m reading The Wal-Mart Effect by Charles Fishman, and finished an article, The Last Empire, by Jacques Leslie, in Mother Jones. Both works discuss the impact of our consumer machine. Fishman illustrates how it is created and sustained by following the growth of the world’s big box monster, and Leslie digs into the consequences of our unquenchable consumption on China’s environment. Both works provide a case for an educated consumer base, and now have me guiltily questioning and accessing all my recent purchases, from new siding for the house, to my most recent curly hair care product.

While I am envious of the dedication of groups like The Compact, who refrain from new purchases for an entire calendar year, I seem unable to commit to limiting my consumption that drastically, possibly because I work in retail, and most certainly because my little jewelry business is based on the temptation of new (albeit recycled metal) earrings. However, I do believe that all businesses, economies, cultures, and environments would benefit if the overheard and underused Three R mantra could be dug out of our closets, dusted off, and practiced in order: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle.

So, in my home and for brendesign, I’ll be pushing to reduce my consumption past the recycled metal, to produce limited samples, to use only recycled or reused paper and materials for packaging, and reuse or recycle all metal and paper scraps. I’m also encouraging my husband’s romance with online junk trading, and will therefore have to bravely argue against the acquisition of all the lonely motorcycles, trailers, and mechanical tools of southern Oregon….but, free chickens, now that would be great fun!

Monday, February 18, 2008

spring circles

Today, spring line sheets are on the to-do, so I'm sharing a sneak peak of a few new pieces I'll have up at etsy and (hopefully) in a few shops in the next couple of months. Circles still dominate my designs. I love circles! Big and round and complete, they are the perfect symbol to attach to our struggling selves as we search for the whole within us.

The Full Moon series (above) is just that, full, round recycled sterling silver circles with a feel-good reflective brushed surface.
A bit of texture is added to the brushed silver in the Sewn series, with a recycled 14k gold wire stitched in an arc across the piece. I'm thinking about adding another element, maybe a gold or oxidized silver disk, so that the gold 'thread' holds the two pieces together...

The Dream series adds dimension to the circle theme, with flat recycled sterling silver circles hand hammered into bowls, oxidized, and edges buffed to a shine, leaving smoky centers.

Monday, February 11, 2008

recycled mountains

Before any pieces were hammered or photographs taken, a goal was made for brendesign that all materials used would be recycled. Two works greatly influenced this choice (as previously I had tinkered with what the local bead stores had to offer, and the metal origins were not discussed). The first is a fantastic indie documentary, The Devil's Miner, which follows 14 year old Basilio Vargas as he works in the Bolivian silver mines to support is family, and the Tio, or devil, that determines the fate of the miners. The second is In Search of King Solomon's Mines, a book by Tahir Shah, which details his adventure into Ethiopia as he searched for the mines of biblical fame, and the environmental and cultural devastation created by the demand for mass quantities of gold.

Our current cultural trend to consider the origins of our objects of consumption is an exciting and beneficial practice. We have become quite familiar with the exploitation of natural resources that lead to pollution, poverty, and war. Asking questions is the most positive and progressive action we can offer as we attempt to redefine our needs and wants.

Monday, February 4, 2008

the handmade guerrilla

I do not knit.
I've attempted, but the closest I've come is wire crochet.
Also, I have yet to participate in a guerilla group.
Admittedly, I am envious of anyone who can combine the two.
Last week's Bryant Park Project's Knitting Guerrillas Rock the Yarn, covered Sabrina Gschwandtner's new book KnitKnit about the expanding world of knitters, the groups, materials, and messages. I was most interested in a group called Knitta, who supply their city and various spots on earth with knitted graffiti. Hand knit cozies circle accessible spaces from telephone poles to a brick on the Great Wall of China. Like the guerilla flowerpot gardeners in Tokyo, the Knittas are altering their urban landscape and culture, returning man-made to handmade.