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Maker Stories

Design, Maker Stories, The Uncommon Life

Video | Maker Story: How Meaningful Objects Helped This Designer Through Cancer Treatment

April 11, 2019

Through intense treatment, two-time cancer survivor Casey Benjamin surrounded herself with objects that inspired hope and reminded her to stay optimistic. Now, she’s paying it forward with her radiant, positivity-provoking designs. We visited her studio to learn more about her beautiful charms!

“These symbols were chosen for their power and purpose. Each charm is meant to tell the wearer’s personal story. They represent past experiences and accomplishments, as well as future hopes and dreams.“

I want to create jewelry loaded with good juju to help people rally hope and power through life’s difficult moments.”

Shop Juju Charms – $55-223 Buy Now »

 


Shop Juju Charms – $55-223 Buy Now »
 

“I wear charms to protect me and to remind me to live for today.”

Shop Charms & Spread Good Juju >>

Maker Stories

Video | Maker Stories: Why Cartoonists Are Like Oysters

February 15, 2019

    “You don’t choose to be a cartoonist, cartooning chooses you,” says Mort Gerberg. And it certainly made a good choice, considering that Mort’s been at it for more than 50 years.

    We’re excited to announce that we’re offering an exclusive collection of framed art prints–12 illustrations, each a limited edition of 10–signed by the legendary cartoonist. We had the honor of visiting him in his New York City home, where he’s created pieces for The New Yorker, Life magazine, and numerous other publications. Watch our video to find out why Mort says cartoonists are like oysters and to see inside his creative space. For a behind-the-scenes look into the artist’s inspiration and a peek at each limited edition print, check out some highlights from our chat with Mort below.

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Maker Stories

Inside the Artist’s Studio with Jewelry Designer Trudy James

January 31, 2019

Jewelry maker Trudy James in her California studio, photos by Emily Hodges

Trudy James’ gorgeous jewelry designs, like her Nest Egg Necklace and Elephant and Her Little Peanuts Necklace, quickly became some of our bestselling gifts for daughters, mothers, and grandmothers. The artist handcrafts her nature-inspired pieces using high quality material that she’s collected from around the world. I dropped by her workspace in Oceanside, in between Los Angeles and San Diego, to discuss the concepts behind her sentimental pieces–she often celebrates motherhood, gratitude, and love–and to learn about her everyday inspirations. (And, of course, to try on all of her beautiful treasures.)

Trudy includes 1-4 little amazonite eggs to represent your baby birds in her Nest Egg Necklace

Trudy’s workspace is located in her home, in a room 100% dedicated to her craft. Her sweet dog, Layla, greeted me at the front door when I arrived and, alongside Trudy, led me into the well-lit studio. Stacked and organized against the back wall were “in-progress” and “completed” jewelry pieces inside labeled boxes, and her desk space proudly showcased tools and the necklaces she was currently tinkering with. At every corner of the room, I spotted photos of family and friends, travel keepsakes, and…bird’s nests, lots and lots of bird’s nests! Trudy’s space, like her designs, is truly one-of-a-kind. The moment I stepped in I could easily see that she put her entire self into her special oasis to reflect herself and her passions.

I later learned that the nests sprinkled around her studio played as small reminders and tokens of gratitude for the success of her Nest Egg Necklace design–inspiring her to not only focus on her business, but also to keep her creative vision alive. Read on to learn how Trudy came up with the concept for another design hit, how Albert Einstein influences her day-to-day work, and when her creative chaos usually begins!

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Maker Stories

Meet Hannah and Nemo: Moving Mosaic Artists & #Vanlife Extraordinaires

November 7, 2018

Skillfully cutting found aluminum cans into sequin-like disks and positioning them in beautiful art doesn’t sound easy. Make that art about four feet wide and construct it in the back of a van, and you’ve got yourself a whole new challenge. That’s what Hannah Dreiss and Nemo do when they create their Recycled Aluminum Moving Mosaics. When they’re not using their van as a studio, they’re literally taking the show on the road. They travel with their pieces from art show to art show, calling their van/studio home sweet home along the way. Read on to find out how cans became their main medium, how cancer brought them closer together, and how their favorite things about #vanlife.

Recycled Aluminum Moving Mosaic | UncommonGoods

Recycled Aluminum Moving Mosaic | UncommonGoods

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Maker Stories

Inside the Artist’s Studio: Luke Hobbs Sheds Light on Industrial Design

October 5, 2018

Industrial designer Luke Hobbs in his Hollywood, California, studio, photos by Emily Hodges

Knowing that Luke Hobbs’ handcrafted lamps carry a mix of industrial-vintage flair, it wasn’t a surprise that his space held the same allure. Luke’s Hollywood studio is the perfect spot for a scavenger hunt if marquee signs, tiny brass animals, and posed mannequins are on your list. A corner display mimicking an old-timey parlor—charming bookshelf wallpaper, steel cocktail shakers, and antique encyclopedias—was revealed right when I walked through the garage entrance.

A few steps away from what Luke calls “the whiskey lounge,” lamps were placed in sections that were in different stages of production: wooden block bases being cut, bases ready-to-be stained, and tiny sculptures about to get polished. “How did you come up with this hand-touch concept?” I asked as I placed my index finger on and off the Mr. Owl Touch Lamp, watching the light bulb flicker. “It’s honestly not a brand new concept, it’s the design that makes it different.”

When I continued to check out the rest of Luke’s garage space, alongside several of his tools and machinery, dozens of spray paint cans and paint buckets were lined up against the wall shelves. In the very back, I noticed piles and piles of sculptures ranging from airplanes to cats—waiting to be selected for his next lamp design. In awe of Luke’s organized chaos, I decided to challenge him a bit by asking if he had my favorite animal, a whale, swimming in these piles. Challenge accepted! He disappeared and returned in two minutes with a little brass whale sitting on his palm. He went on to tell me why he can’t complete one lamp in one day, how Mack Trucks inspired his first design, and why a getaway car might be needed when it’s time recharge his creative juices.

 

What are your most essential tools?

Hands. My hands definitely qualify for the most essential. Nothing would get done without them.

Where do you find inspiration within your space?

I’ve created different areas within my workspace, including the “whiskey lounge” which is generally used as a finished display of product staging, but also for inspiration. And maybe some whiskey.

Mr. Owl Touch Lamp, photo by UncommonGoods’ creative team

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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

Uncommon Impact: Visiting Brooklyn’s Largest Rooftop Farm

August 6, 2018

Brooklyn Grange Co-Founder Ben Flanner in their Brooklyn rooftop farm, photos by Theresa Hensley

What do you expect to see when you step foot on an urban rooftop? “A farm” probably isn’t high on the list, but if you make your way to the top of Building 3 in the Brooklyn Navy Yard, you will, in fact, find yourself surrounded by edible greenery. That’s due in no small part to the work of Ben Flanner, President & Director of Agriculture at Brooklyn Grange Rooftop Farm, where the peppers and herbs that give our Rooftop Garden Hot Sauce its unique flavor are grown. Getting hungry?

The Brooklyn Grange fields atop a building in the Brooklyn Navy yard make up the world’s largest rooftop soil farm.

As if “President & Director of Agriculture” weren’t impressive enough, Ben’s also one of Brooklyn Grange’s co-founders; he started the venture with Vice President Anastasia Cole Plakias and Chief Operating Officer Gwen Schantz in 2010. Armed with a background in management consulting and financial marketing—neither of which, you may notice, are farming—Ben took quickly to his new line of work. “Creating more green spaces in cities is ecologically, socially, and economically valuable on so many levels,” he says. “Personally, though, the idea to start farming was spurred by my love of agriculture, vegetables, and all of the many challenges and hats worn by a farmer.”

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