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Maker Resources, Maker Stories

Inside the Artists’ Studios: A Look Back at Our 2016 Studio Tours

December 30, 2016

It’s hard to believe that we’ve been running our Studio Tours series for almost 5 years. Maybe that’s because every time I step into a another studio, I feel like I’m entering a whole new world. Over the years I’ve visited jewelry makers, potters, woodworkers, and even an industrial kitchen. And that’s just to name a few. Every time I leave an artist’s space, I feel creatively refreshed and ready to get making myself.

In 2016, I actually did get in some hands-on experience, when Jim Loewer gave our team a tour of his Philadelphia glass-working studio and let me use the torch to make own pendant. It was was definitely as much fun as you’d expect playing with fire and molten glass to be, and I now have a memento from the visit. Other adventures this year included checking out a sustainable studio made from reclaimed shipping containers, one contributor’s trip to London to meet world-renowned jewelry designer Alex Monroe, a look inside our own Product Development team’s creative space, and more. It wasn’t easy to pick just a few highlights from each Studio Tour to show you, but here are some moments that I hope spark your interest and maybe even put you in the mood to get creative too.

Laurel Begley

Laurel Begley | UncommonGoodsCreating the Faux Bois Vase | UncommonGoods

Laurel Begley’s Personalized Faux Bois Vase includes a symbol of lasting love, so it’s no surprise that she told us about some of the symbols of love an nurturing in her own life as she gave us a virtual tour of her Santa Rosa, CA, studio. She also shared some great advice: “Don’t try to be anything you’re not. Do your best work, put it out there, and everything else will fall into place.” | Visit Laurel’s Studio

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Maker Stories

Inside the Artist’s Studio
with Candle Queen Tamara Mayne

September 10, 2018

Tamara sneaks a sniff in her Brooklyn, New York, studio; photos by Theresa Hensley

Some 20 blocks from our own offices in the Brooklyn Army Terminal, Tamara Mayne and her staff of candle experts toil in Industry City. Tamara’s studio is filled with smells: pear, bergamot, jasmine, gardenia, lemongrass—the list goes on. She’s a new mom, and it’s a rare treat to catch her at work in her Sunset Park outpost. “My home studio [is] where I do most of my work,” she tells us, adding, “in true New York fashion, it’s half of our bedroom.” But if her apartment’s where much of the behind-the-scenes, creative-director-y magic happens, Industry City is where it all comes together. After all, that’s where her Sunday Morning and Love Potion candles come to life—where soy wax is heated, mixed with fragrance, and poured into sleek, stylish tins and jars, topped off with stickers Tamara designs herself.

It’s no surprise that a candle-making studio might be a relaxing place, but Tamara’s workspace, with its vast wall of windows and tiny “shop” where you can smell every candle she makes, is especially calming. Dressed in jeans and a casually knotted button-up, she’s nothing if not approachable. That unstuffiness makes its way into her creations, too: they’re well crafted, beautifully designed, and smell great, but they’re not too self-serious. Made from soy wax, a sustainable, clean-burning alternative to traditional paraffin wax, each is perfumed and packaged with a care that shows… and they’re usually named something fun. You know, like “Love Potion.”

Watch our video to learn how Tamara bottles that “lazy Sunday” mood

We visited Tamara’s studio to see her goods crafted in the flesh—er, wax?—and spoke with her about where inspiration strikes (the subway), how long it takes to develop a new candle (longer than you’d think), and more. Read on for our Q&A.

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Maker Stories

Inside the Artist’s Studio
with Mushroom Lamp Creator
Danielle Trofe

June 4, 2018
Inside the Artist's Studio with Danielle Trofe | UncommonGoods

Danielle in her studio, photos by Theresa Hensley

Industry City is a strange place. Just one stop north of our headquarters in the historic Brooklyn Army Terminal, it’s the closest thing New York has to an office park: a 40-acre expanse of old warehouses filled with artists’ studios, chocolate factories, and cafes where a cup of coffee could set you back a cool $14.75 (yes, really). Somewhere in those six million square feet of space, designer Danielle Trofe is hard at work. Or at least we imagine she is. She certainly was when we arrived to tour her studio, a sunlit space filled with pothos and other plants and objects made from her signature material, mycelium.

Inside the Artist's Studio with Danielle Trofe | UncommonGoods

If you’re browsing our blog and you’ve heard the word “mycelium” before, chances are you already know that Danielle is the creator of the Mushroom Lamp, an eco-friendly answer to high-end lighting. If you haven’t, you might be interested to know that Danielle’s lamp is made with a shade grown—yes, grown—from mushrooms’ roots and a base handcrafted with salvaged ash wood. It’s sleek, sophisticated, and makes planet Earth happy, too. But of course, it’s not the only thing Danielle makes. In her studio, you’ll find everything from hanging lamps shaped by hand over time to a large sign that says “grow” in playful cursive script. And that one word kinda sums it up, doesn’t it? Danielle’s a designer whose objects really, truly grow, changing shape, size, and texture over time until they’re juuuust right.

The Mushroom Lamp | UncommonGoods

The Mushroom Lamp | UncommonGoods

On a gorgeous, unseasonably balmy May day, we visited Danielle in Industry City and asked all about the stuff she makes—whether it’s safe for folks with mushroom allergies (yes), whether it’ll fall apart if you get water on it (not right away, but don’t pour water on a lamp, please), whether you can eat it (technically you could, but again, please don’t), and more. Read on for our full Q&A, plus more photos of Danielle’s stunning space.

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Maker Stories

Inside the Artist’s Studio with Brian Giniewski

March 6, 2018

Brian in his studio; photos by Royce Brown

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania—home of the cheesesteak (and its vegan offshoots), the Liberty Bell, and fellow marketing team member Morgan. I’d only been once, in middle school, when all I cared about was seeing the house where “The Real World: Philadelphia” was filmed, before my trip down in December to tour the studio of ceramic artist Brian Giniewski. In a far-off corner of the city once known as a center for textile production, Brian makes delightfully drippy vessels perfect for housing fully-loaded scoops of ice cream, each glazed in tantalizing shades like “pop rox,” “creamsicle,” “saffron,” and “peach.” I know they’re made of clay, but I’ve gotta be honest: they made me hungry—and actually, they still do. But I digress.

Drippy Ice Cream Bowls | UncommonGoods

 Accompanied by my trusty companion, Royce, I followed Brian through the halls of Globe Dye Works, a yarn-dying factory-turned-artistic community that houses tenants like the Philadelphia Wooden Boat Factory, Rival Bros. Coffee (I had some, and it was quite good), and, of course, the artist himself. Remnants of the building’s industrial days lined the path to Brian’s workspace, where a seemingly endless supply of shiny, textured mugs, plates, and planters mingled with tools of the trade. After a tour of his sunny studio, Brian threw a quick piece for us—an act that may as well have been magic to me—and invited us both to indulge in “Cake Time,” a staff tradition that pretty much speaks for itself. One slice of chocolaty cheesecake and a good old-fashioned sit-down later, Royce and I took our leave, equipped with a handwritten list of must-try Philly lunch spots (tehina milkshake, anyone?) and a directive to stop by Field, a plant-centric pop-up in Philly’s hip Fishtown neighborhood, for First Friday.

Itching to know more about the guy behind our Drippy Ice Cream Bowls? Read on for our Q&A with Brian, plus a selection of photos from our visit to his space.

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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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Maker Stories

Inside the Artists’ Studios: Visiting 12 Maker Spaces in 2017

December 31, 2017

February 2017 marked five years of UncommonGoods Studio Tours. A lot has happened here at UG since that first visit (with Anna Rabinowicz, whose Agate Coasters are still a customer favorite), but one thing hasn’t changed. Every time I enter a maker’s creative space, I learn something I didn’t know before and gain a new appreciation for their craft. Sometimes I get to physically travel to a studio, sit down and chat with an artist, and watch them work. Every now and then I even get to try my hand at making something. Other times, my experience is like yours. I get to see inside an artist’s studio through the eyes of another excited visitor, who’s taking in a new experience and sharing their own thoughts and feelings.

Our 2017 Studio Tour round-up features the experiences of several team members, including my own visits to New Hampshire, Ohio, and Maryland; our graphic designer’s look inside a Rhode Island jewelry studio; a jewelry buyer’s trip to Boston; our PR & social media manager’s serendipitous stay in Canada; the blog team’s soap making lesson in Newburgh, New York;  and even an adventure across the Atlantic, where our contributing writer met Greek sculptor George Roumanas. And that’s just a start. This year, we traveled more than ever and visited the widest variety of studios yet. It’s always tricky to pick just a few highlights from our Studio Tours, but here’s a shot at it. (Along with links to the full posts, if you’re looking for a serious infusion of inspiration!)

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Maker Stories

Inside the Artist’s Studio with Holly Daniels Christensen

November 3, 2017

Holly Daniels Christensen lounges in her studio outside of Boston, Massachussetts; photos by Christa Smith

There is something very nostalgic about Holly Daniels Christensen’s jewelry. Holly has collected sands from around the world, and her super talented team of artists sets them into jewelry, bottle stoppers, and snowflake ornaments, creating personalized keepsakes.

I was beyond excited to see Holly’s studio, meet her team, and see her sandbank in person. In the time we’ve been working together, her bank has grown from about 1,200 sands to over 3,000—and it’s still growing! I wanted take a peek at granules that hold a special place in my heart—Stone Harbor, New Jersey and Santorini, Greece were two that I especially was excited to see—and the sandbank definitely did not disappoint. A collection of samples from around the world, each with a distinct texture and color, her collection encompasses beach sand, sports sands (think golf courses and baseball infields), and crushed power stones.

Sharon & Mekah

Holly and her team work in a converted manufacturing building outside of Boston. The space is a designer’s dream—hardwood floors, sky high ceilings, and lots of light. Her team was warm and welcoming, and the studio buzzes with creative energy. Besides her sandbank, a highlight of the tour was seeing the very table Holly launched her business from—formerly her dining room table, now in use in her conference room.

After a tour of her space, I wanted to take a crack at creating my very own piece of jewelry. It was a tough choice deciding which sand to use, but I finally settled on Santorini, a gorgeously grainy volcanic sand with bits of white and terracotta. One of Holly’s sand artists, Mekah, led the way, showing me how to carefully place the sand within the pendant. It’s an exacting process which requires a fair bit of precision. Mekah was a super patient instructor, and within about an hour, I had made a piece of jewelry!

It was a magical day, and I’m so grateful to Holly and her entire team. Read on for a Q&A with Holly and a sneak peek into her sandbank and studio, complete with mentions of lunchtime excitement and dance parties.

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Maker Stories

Inside the Artist’s Studio with Christine Schmidt

September 7, 2017

Christine Schmidt soaking up the San Francisco sun, photos by Emily Hodges

Colorful. That describes the running theme inside Christine Schmidt’s home, and also sums up the very core of the artist’s personality. (What type of artist you might ask? Oh, just a printmaker, jewelry designer, illustrator, author, painter, and home decor extraordinaire.)

I was invited into Christine’s home to go behind the scenes of her quirky and offbeat jewelry pieces, like the Color Wheel Pendant and the Taco and Hot Sauce Mismatched Earrings (my personal favorite for obvious and delicious reasons). I knew the visit would be a success the moment Christine uttered the words, “Alexa, play 2 Dope Queens.”  The studio tour quickly unfolded into us playing with paints like art school girls and exchanging love-hate stories about New York City. We drank tea from mugs (that Christine designed herself) while listening to Jessica and Phoebe chuckling in the background. In my head, I’d basically found my new best friend in San Francisco.

Christine’s illustrations definitely bring out the playfulness in me and fill the Lisa Frank void I never even knew existed. Yet, what I admire even more is that Christine herself is super relatable and isn’t afraid to be different — very much like her jewelry designs. As an unapologetic feminist who naturally marches to the beat of her own drum, it’s no surprise that her company, Yellow Owl Workshop, has been a success for almost a decade. She also recently published her third crafting book, Make It Yours. Discover how Christine entered the world of design, what she loves most about San Francisco, and why she thinks you should never apologize.

 

Christine Schmidt’s Color Wheel Pendant

 

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