Friday, February 27, 2009

Education Friday: Learn something @ The Crucible!

The Crucible is one of my favorite places in the bay area. Located in West Oakland, it's a quick BART ride from SF (1st stop in the east bay). I've been involved with them for years, and it's an amazing organization. They say it better than I would:

If you’ve always wanted to weld, work with glass, make jewelry, dance with fire, pour bronze, or learn other industrial arts, you’ve found the right place. At The Crucible, beginners are encouraged, and no experience is necessary. You can safely learn the skills you need while working on projects. If you’re an experienced artist or craftperson wanting to develop new skills, you can enroll in advanced classes—and take advantage of opportunities to use The Crucible’s facility and equipment. Enrolling in a Studio Access Lab gives you access to our equipment so that you can work on your own projects.

The upcoming spring quarter runs April 25-July 6.
Registration opens March 10.

The full course catalog is available on their website. If you just want a taste, they have workshops that complete in a weekend. Some highlights of special interest to the Process 376 team:
  • El-Wire workshops
  • Demystifying the Light Emitting Diode (LED)
  • Electronics for Artists
  • Architectural Applications of Plate Glass--Using Recycled Materials
  • Woodworking (all skill levels)
  • Sheet Metal Forming
  • Beginning Hula Hoop*
Hot tip: If you volunteer, you get reduced tuition on courses.

They are having an open house on April 18 with live demos (including metal casting) and a student art show.
*Included especially for Tricia and Kacie, although they are already pretty good at this.

Images from The Crucible

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Materials: Recycled Milk Bottles

The eco-websites are filled with milk jug objects--lamps, kids crafts, DIY kits., even an igloo. Some of them are classics, but most of them end up looking, well, a lot like milk jugs. Then you discover someone like Caroline Saul, who recycles milk jugs into these delicate lovelies, with no sign of the original dairy product remaining. Click through to check out the rest of her work, including some nice detailed close-ups of her material experiments.
Thanks to Design*Sponge for the tip. Images from Caroline Saul

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Process 376 rides again!

"Show up with your latest and greatest ideas to have them torn apart by washed up celebrity judges."

For those of you who missed it, we met at Annie's Social Club in SF, and everyone brought sketches and ideas. Oliver set the bar pretty high by walking in with a finished lamp made head-to-toe from recycled materials. I'm working on getting photos, and I'll post them when they come in.

T, here's that wool lampshade I told you about:

K2, if I can track down the bubble wrap screen, I'll post it later in the week.

Thanks to everyone for the great ideas and feedback.

Image from Mixko on Etsy

Monday, February 23, 2009

Finger pointing: Paperclip chandelier

What's this? Paperclips! Yes, over 4,000 paperclips, meticulously hand-crafted into a chandelier. This is a custom piece by Gary Ponzo for Met Home's Californication show house. Like it? Hate it? Either way, you gotta love the shadows it makes on the ceiling.
And in case you're wondering, that is a column of stacked books in the corner.

Thanks to Apartment Therapy for the tip. Images from POINTclickHOME

Friday, February 20, 2009

Inspiration: Bamboo lighting

February is lighting month here at SF Green Labs, and one of our goals is to highlight local Bay Area artisans. The folks at Branch have exquisite taste, and they are featuring these stunning pendants by Schmitt Design. These lights are designed to warm the traditionally cool glow from a CFL. They are handmade of bamboo veneer, right here in SF.

Available at Branch. Priced from $248, CFL bulb included!

Image from Branch

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Inspiration: Cotton (eye) Candy

Tricia tipped me off to The Nest Store. They have some fantastic (and reasonably priced) pieces, including this cotton candy pendant woven of natural cotton, and my favorite, made from reclaimed washers.Thanks, T!

UPDATE: While the store is still in business, they have changed their product mix since we originally posted. These lights are no longer available.

Image from The Nest Store

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Resources: Button, button, who's got the buttons?

There are a few local organizations working very hard to promote "solid waste diversion," which is a fancy way of saying, "Don't throw that away. Surely someone wants it." Imagine an Oakland manufacturer has 3000 green buttons, but it turns out green isn't selling this year. No matter how crafty the office manager is, she can't figure out what to do with 3000 extra buttons. Enter the East Bay Depot for Creative Reuse. One call to the donations line, Mike drives over in the truck, and before you know it, those buttons are for sale in the shop on Telegraph Ave. and working their way into craft projects.

The Depot was created by and for teachers, as a teachers network and materials exchange. The result is an amazing place for educators, artists, and crafters. If you're in SF, SCRAP has a similar mission with an arts focus and a regular list of workshops and classes. Both places accept donations and have generous hours:

East Bay Depot for Create Reuse

4695 Telegraph Avenue
Oakland, CA 94609
Open 11-6 everyday


801 Toland Street

San Francisco, CA

(415) 647-1746

Open 9-5, Tuesday through Saturday

Images from the East Bay Depot for Creative Reuse

Monday, February 16, 2009

Finger Pointing: MIO Trask LED lighting

The flat-pack masters over at MIO are very good at making flat things 3D and making 3D things flat. Their new line of Trask lighting is flat-packed, customizable, and uses LEDs. It's a win-win-win!

Thanks to Apartment Therapy for the tip. Images from MIO

Friday, February 13, 2009

Inspiration: Sweet Home Alabama

For Valentine's day, I was thinking of doing a post on recycled jewelry as a hint hint to my guy, but then I remembered Alabama Chanin. As Tricia observed, their aesthetic is more crafty gal-meets-Anthropologie than we usually feature here. But I grew up in Alabama, my grandmother had several of these primitive* chairs. The nicer ones lived in the house. When the seats wore out, they moved to the porch, then to the old kitchen behind the main house. Grandma was eco-chic in her own old-school way--braiding rugs from fabric scraps, filling the deep freezer with all the summer fruits and veggies for winter eating (and the best strawberry preserves on the planet). These chairs resonate with me in a way that makes my heart ache for warm summer nights and fireflies and the smell of Southern cooking.

Ms. Chanin is rescuing the things from our grandmother's porches and attics and giving them new life, and this makes me happy.
She also has some lovely quilts and found-object chandeliers. All this on top of her original career as a fashion designer.

Happy Valentine's Day, Grandma. I imagine you would have thrilled to see me weave fabric scraps or neckties to restore one of those porch chairs, earning it a place back in the house.

*Now they're called "primitive," but back then, we just called them "old."

Images from Alabama Chanin

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Inspiration: Urban Hardwoods

The folks at Urban Hardwoods are dreaming big:
"Our goal is fairly straightforward — to be the most progressive, responsible and sustainable wood furniture manufacturer/retailer in America."
They're well on their way, and the work? Oh, the work is stunning. Click around their website and try to pick just one thing you'd like to take home. Such loveliness....
Images from Urban Hardwoods

Half-baked: Business cards

In a meeting Monday, a very nice sales rep handed me his business card. He sheepishly explained that he had a new cell number and didn't have new cards yet. He inked out the old number and wrote in his new one. This got me thinking about all the obsolete business cards out there. In many companies, every time something changes--promotion, layoffs, new corporate logo--the printer is called, and a shiny new box of cards appears.

So, what to do with the old cards?
I had a quirky friend in Dallas who used to get a huge kick out of using other people's cards to assume a secret identity for a day. That's handy if you're a superhero (or evil mastermind), but not particularly useful in our context. The trusty interweb was pretty light on great DIY ideas. Other than clever origami and some wonderfully obsessive construction projects, nothing really inspired me.

However, our focus at SF Green Labs this month is lighting, so here's my half-baked* idea for today: Is there a way to use these as a basis for a lamp shade or base, or will this always end-up looking like it's made of business cards? Here are my first two ideas:
  1. Perforate them to let light through (our cards are particularly thick), then assemble them into a shade or lantern.
  2. Shred them and then weave them into a fabric, with the openings in the weave allowing the light to come through.
Designers, what do you think?

*Half-baked: If you have your own half-baked idea in need a little more love and nourishment, send it in: workingglassgal (at) gmail (dot) com.

Image from hiddedevries photostream on flickr

Monday, February 9, 2009

Inspiration: Learning to play the flute(d cardboard)

Giles Miller got a lot of press a couple of years ago for his very interesting (if not super practical) cardboard laptop cases and furniture. I just rediscovered him and learned that he's designing cardboard lighting as well. The graphic elements are formed by manipulating the the fluting in the cardboard. All the products are available through his British design collective Farm. It's also worth poking around Farm's website a bit to see what they believe in (plus they have an "about us" section that reads like the dramatic voice-over for a B movie trailer). With a strong commitment to local manufacturing, all of their products are made near the design studios.
Image from Giles Miller

Friday, February 6, 2009

Finger pointing: The 10-Meter Forest

Norwegian designer Catherine Kullburg has been working the laser all over these veneer panels to create a glowing forest inside an Oslo nightclub. Her ceiling/wall installation includes a 10-meter wide back lit veneer frieze. Thanks to Apartment Therapy for the tip.

Images from Catherine Kullburg

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Inspiration: Doodle lights

The Greypants duo of architects have a very nice line of pendant lights made from the doodles that pile up in their Seattle offices. Each sketchlight™ pendant is as unique as the sketches that comprise it.

They also make more structural ones from scraps of cardboard. Very nice, minimal designs. Both lights are reasonably priced ($135-$195) and available directly from the Greypants website.

Images from Greypants