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THINGS WE LOVE - APRIL 2014

Bringing plants inside your home is a quick and easy way to add accents of color, brighten up your décor, and filter your air. However, not everyone is blessed with a green thumb and some struggle to keep even a cactus or succulent alive. If this sounds like you then check out the Pickaplant Jars by Pikaplant. By hermetically sealing specially chosen plants in glass jars a mini ecosystem is born. The plants recycle the air and water in a closed system and thus require no maintenance from you. Don’t worry about the plants dying anytime soon either. A prototype from the company has been going strong since being sealed nearly a year ago. Currently you’ll have to find a retailer that carries Pikaplant Jars through their store list, however a Kickstarter campaign is soon to be announced by the company as they debut a new no-maintenance plant product. Keep an eye out for more from Pikaplant soon.


Caruma by Eneida Tavares - $100

Caruma by Eneida Tavares - $100

Some of you may be familiar with traditional pine needle baskets back from your days at Summer Camp, but these vessels by designer Eneida Tavares, breathe new life into the long-established craft. Tavares binds handpicked pine needles from local forests and ties them up into long coils that she stacks on top of one another, building the form. She pairs the pine cylinders with stark white ceramic pieces that are woven together. The end result is a beautiful modern sculpture that combines two traditional crafts into one unified piece and is meant to serve as an “intercultural dialogue.” Each piece is a handmade, one-of-a-kind design and can only be purchased through the timed sales on Tavare’s website for roughly $100. 


Designs made from natural stone are always exciting, but the raw material is usually underutilized in many mass-produced products due to its weight and often-intensive manufacturing. However, this collection of Desk Accessories by South Korean designer Jeongwha Seo really grabbed our attention. Inspired by the volcanic landscape of the Jeju Island in South Korea, the collection consists of coasters, a business card stand, a paperweight, a penholder, and a pen tray, all carved from the local Basalt stone. Each piece is finished with a narrow coating of black acrylic paint to keep it from scratching desktop surfaces. Seo wanted to use the skills the islands traditional crafts people have developed to manufacture the series and while these aren’t in production yet, he hopes they will soon supply the local craftsmen with a consistent work flow to help offset the recent lack of jobs for these skilled artisans. 

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Hands On, Vol. 9: Plain Stitches Sewing Company

Hands On Volume 9 took us to Plain Stitches in Lancaster PA, 75 miles west of Philadelphia in the heart of Pennsylvania Dutch country. We met Javan Lapp and his family, the owners of a clothing company that specializes in not only traditional and modest clothing for Amish and Mennonite populations all across North America, but also small production runs for independent makers and designers in the USA.

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We first met Joseph, Javan's father-in-law, who is in charge of cutting fabric and patterns, as well as servicing the sewing machines. The two started the business in 2012 after hearing of an opportunity to buy some sewing equipment from an Amish man in the midwest who never got his business off the ground. So despite having little experience in the field, Javan's career in sales in marketing for various industries helped him to recognize this opportunity. It was a natural fit for Joseph's wife Faith, who had worked in clothing as a teenager, but given it up to raise her family. Now that the kids were grown, it was easy to pick it back up and develop her skills.

Plain Stitches is truly a family business. Javan and his wife live next door with their young daughter, and the sewing operations are located in a huge barn that was build by Javan's wife's grandparents in the late 1800s. They used to have a cut flower business, which has since become inactive, as the sewing business has picked up. Downstairs are the chicken coops and horse stables, which you'll find on just about every family farm in this community. 

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The business employs about 6 people, and in addition to serving conservative Christian populations across North America, Plain Stitches gladly takes on a diverse group of other clients. When we visited, Faith was sewing a fur hood onto a flashy men's jacket for a designer in Philadelphia.

"Maker's Row has really changed the game for us" Javan says that being listed on the site brings in 1-2 leads per day, which they are eager to take on. When asked whether expansion is on the horizon, he was reluctant to say. "An operation like this could grow fairly large, but consistency comes first."

Capabilities

Designers and clothing companies looking to work with Plain Stitches will be pleased to know that there is no official minimum order, which is often a major hurdle for startups. 50-100 units is common for small designers, but smaller runs can be negotiated.

Plain Stitches has a wide range of machines and capabilities, including, single-needle & double-needle straight stitches, flat-felled chain stitches, cover stitches, tack machines, serger machines, binder machines, and blind stitch machines.

Learn more what Plain Stitches has to offer here.

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THINGS WE LOVE - MARCH 2015

Stone may not seem like the ideal material to use when designing plates, but these attractive trays by Peca design are making me think twice. Carved from volcanic stone, each one features a rough textured side and a smoothed polished half to allow for a contrast within the same material. They are meant to evoke traditional roots while still remaining contemporary. A set of three will set you back $193 but is well worth it for this beautiful design that is sure to be a centerpiece at any table.


We thought we’ve seen every possible Iphone case and cover imaginable, but this is the first time we’ve encountered one made from concrete. Developed by Posh Projects, the Luna iphone skin is a semi-flexible concrete covering that will add an industrial look to your phone. You can choose between a smooth finish or opt for a unique crater pattern cover that’ll make it look as if you plucked your phone off the face of the moon. For only $30 these cases will be quite the durable and eye-catching accessory.


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Felt Storage Bins by Loop Design Studio - $26

Most storage bins feel a little sterile. Often made from clear or brightly colored plastics, these containers don’t always make for a great display pieces, and are then relegated to the back of a closet, basement, or under the bed. How about getting a bin you’d actually want to have lying out? These attractive felt bins by Loop Design Studio give a great aesthetic upgrade to an often-boring piece of storage. Made from soft industrial synthetic felt, each one is a flat-packed style design that simply needs folded up to be used. There are also a number of brightly colored wooden handles to choose from making for perfect accent colors to match whatever room you put these in. Then when you’re finished using them, they can be unfolded and tucked away, taking up less space than their plastic counterparts.

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THE WANDERLUST SERIES: FLAGSTAFF MOUNTAIN, COLORADO

When we finally made it to the look-out on Flagstaff Mountain, it still left us wondering. Beyond the snow and beyond the whiteness, there was an entire different world out there left undiscovered.

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It was up to us to imagine what came next and what more was waiting to be explored. That’s the beauty of the unknown. The sense of wonder and curiosity it leaves us with…it’s what keeps us going. 

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You may only see whiteness, but what I see is much more than that. - Molly Grunewald

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THE WANDERLUST SERIES: Buntzen Lake, B.C. Canada

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“Retreating further down the forest road, towering trees surround us blocking out the sunlight and the silence of nature clears our minds. Looking back every once in a while - nothing is stopping us now. "

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Beginning to see traces of water and mountains the trees are left behind to reveal Buntzen Lake. With our paddles in hand and cameras around our necks, we set off onto the still waters to reach further into serenity.

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Docking at a small beach we find the perfect place to share memories and admire the hills dressed with trees. The feeling of this beautiful place will never subside as each visit is a new adventure." - Brad Yuen

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Artist to Watch: Matthew Addonizio


Philadelphia Jewelry maker Matthew Addonizio’s innovative material-based accessories immediately caught our eyes here at Analog Watch Co. Five years ago, when Addonizio wanted to create a necklace for himself, he transformed some wood to make his first design. After more and more people kept asking him where they could buy his necklaces, he decided to start selling them. While it all started with his wooden necklaces, he now includes other materials such as rolled leather and woven fiber. The pieces are beautifully simple and have a real honesty about them and their construction.

Matthew strives to make sure each one fits his minimalistic style and that the work can speak for itself. While he sometimes begins his work by sketching various ideas, more often he is playing with materials and different forms to organically pull the design from the process. He is constantly developing new pieces and gets inspiration from a variety of fields including photography and architecture You can check out his website at www.matthew-adonizio.com where you can buy his jewelry, or his instagram where you can get a behind the scenes look at the process.  


 

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Hands On, Vol. 8: East Falls Glassworks

Began in 2006 by Jon Goldberg, the East Falls Glassworks located here in East Falls, Philadelphia, is both an open studio for local glass artists, as well as a teaching facility for the surrounding area where one can go to take classes and learn the skills involved in glass work. The studio is the only glassblowing center in the Germantown/Manayunk area and is open to anyone who is interested in the art.

Shop manager Nikolaj Christensen talked to us about the various types of work the center does. From contract jobs, one-offs, repairs, small batch prototyping and even custom designs, the studio will work with the designer, artist, or client to realize their vision.

Nikolaj Christensen, shop manager at East Falls Glassworks in Philadelphia

Nikolaj Christensen, shop manager at East Falls Glassworks in Philadelphia

Two of the designers we filmed, Miranda Work and Skitch Manion, make up the collective Workingman Handmade. They specialize in contract work and being general glassmakers for hire while still working on a number of their own designs that they sell through their Etsy page. We filmed them as they made an inlaid glass cup, taking it from molten material to a finished product.

 

Process

First the artist gathers hot glass onto a blowpipe from the furnace. They must continually rotate the rod so that gravity will not affect the viscous glass and cause it to form unevenly. A small wooden tool known as a block is soaked in water and used to smooth the glass. When the hot glass comes in contact with the wet block, steam forms and the glass rides along that barrier, slowly smoothing it out. The glass cools quickly and must be continually reheated so it can be worked with. 

A marver table is used to flatten out the form and a small puff of air is sent down the blowpipe to the other side where the glass ball has formed. The air moves to the hottest part of the glass and expands inside. This is how hollow forms and other vessels are started.

It takes great skill to be a glassblower, as it requires you to work quickly so that glass doesn’t cool off while simultaneously fixing any issues that may arise. Another piece of molten glass is gathered and dropped onto one of their delicate designs that rest on the metal table. Colored glass powder is used to make the designs and it melts to adhere with the hot glass puck. Then the previous form is attached to the disk creating the bottom of the cup. A jack or giant pair of shears is used to shape and cut the vessel as needed. 

After they are pleased with the design, the rod is removed and the base smoothed out. It is then transferred to an annealing oven for anywhere between 12-15 hours so the glass can reach an even temperature and won’t break after being made.

Miranda Work & Skitch Manion of Workingman Handmade demoing the process described above.

Miranda Work & Skitch Manion of Workingman Handmade demoing the process described above.

If you’re interested in learning more about the East Falls Glassworks, taking their classes, or discussing possible projects with the artists in residence please feel free to check out their website at eastfallsglass.com or email them with any questions you have at info@eastfallsglass.com. Finally thank you so much to the team at Glassworks for allowing us to come and film them while they work.

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THINGS WE LOVE - JANUARY 2015

The ability to customize our products has become more and more important to today’s consumers. However, one area that has seen little room for customizability has been travel kits. That is until these attractive and versatile leather cases made by This is Ground. The Mod series is a collection of different handmade leather cases that offer a wide variety of interchangeable inserts with different pockets or clasps for specific occupations or hobbies. The prices vary depending on which add-on or case you buy, but it is well worth it for a carryall that reflects your passion.


Designed and founded by two friends in the UK, Woodbuds is a new company that is focused on lessening their global footprint and on giving back to our planet, one tree at a time. Made from Walnut, these headphones come in several bright colors and offer various sizes for different users. Each one comes packaged in 100% recycled boxes and for every 1,000 products sold, and the company partners with The Woodland Trust to plant a tree in an effort to give back to our environment. You can pick up a pair for yourself on their website for around $38 and support both a well designed product and a good cause. 


Simplicity will never go out of style and these attractive desk organizers by Most Modest are at the peak of simple and elegant design.  Made from wood and recycled cork/rubber, these organizers feature a cut out to store your phone, a holder for your pen or stylus, and a hidden compartment perfect for smaller items. The contrast between the speckled cork/rubber lid and the natural wood is sure to add a nice accent to anyone’s desk. 

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THINGS WE LOVE - DECEMBER 2014

Some beautiful kitchen accessories that caught our eyes this month were these gorgeous maple set knives by Warehouse Brand. Hand-crafted from Canadian Maple and German stainless steel, these attractive blades feature a set piece of wood that highlights the precision steel behind it. By using the wood, what is usually a cold or industrial looking product suddenly becomes a warm, and inviting statement piece. They even were part of the prestigious 2013 Red Dot design awards best of the best showcase. While not commercially obtainable just yet, they are available for pre-order on their site and will set you back roughly $100.


There is something so refreshing about non-intuitive design.  That moment of surprise when you finally figure out what the purpose of this object is. At first glance, the RUBAN appears to be just a simple bent piece of steel, but it is actually a stylish, sculptural bottle opener. One side is a reflective polished metal and the other a matte surface, which creates a wonder contrast between the two. The elegant bent hook fits perfectly onto bottle caps allowing for a hassle free opening. This kitchen and bar utensil is sure to sleekly fit within any context thanks to its highly minimal and precise design. Made by CONTEXTE Design, one will cost you roughly $67, but it is well worth it for a timeless piece of art that will be sure to last a lifetime. 


While planters and pots are perfectly acceptable ways to display your plants, it is always refreshing to see them get off the ground and up onto the walls. Designed and made here in Philadelphia by Vivo Walls, the Olla sconce planters are a new way to show off your green thumb. Built from recycled glass bottles and large carved chunks of wood, these striking vessels will add a nice accent of nature to any wall in your home. Each one attaches with an included bracket that is easy to install.  They even sell multi-vessel holders that can be set up with hydroponic systems, perfect for the indoor gardener in your home. 

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Hands On, Vol. 7: Huntingdon Yarn Mill

Nestled right in the Port Richmond neighborhood of Philadelphia, you'll find the family owned and operated Huntingdon Yarn Mill. The building, it's machines, and it's people reflect not only Philadelphia's historical manufacturing past - but the hidden gems just waiting to be discovered by designers and makers who are wanting to produce regionally. If you know where to look and can learn about the process, you can make and design here.

Huntingdon Yarn Mill is owned by Fay and Majid Jarah. Majid started working for the mill 30 years ago, bought in some time later, and the business has been a family and friend affair ever since.  With about 50 employees, most of whom live in the neighborhood, they seem to have the same set up as most of the other manufacturers in this area.  They love and treat their employees like family and it's very common to find siblings, spouses, and family members of various generations all working under the same roof.

Quality is key, whether it be natural fibers or silk, linen, and rayon - Huntingdon keeps it's customers because it produces a superior quality material. This distinguishing quality, according to owner Majid Jarah is the quality of the tried and true equipment from the '30s "Newer machines - they loose the detail. Some people want perfection and our machines can create that" 

Two years ago Huntingdon launched "Made in America Yarns" - an offshoot that focused on direct to end consumer yarns manufactured and dyed in the USA. The company is focused on yarns for three main markets: home furnishings, clothing/apparel, and the craft industry for hand knitting. One of their specialties is also metallic yarn - which is the combining of metallic yarns with nylon, rayon, acetate or silk.

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PROCESS

We go into the similar manufacturing process in detail in our very first Hands On video where we cover Wayne Mills Co., so we'll touch on it just briefly here. Yarn is created in three steps: production, dying, and finishing.

1. The yarns start off as spools of thread that are sent through machines called twisters and winders. These highly technical machines create the unique patterning or texturing which is then wound up on large skeins. A skein is basically loose spool of threaded material.

2. The material is loose because these skeins are then dipped into various dye baths. Every batch goes through a number of dyes and then washes to achieve the purest and cleanest colors and even dye treatment. Huntindon uses direct and acid dyes, depending on the material type.

3. After dyeing, the loosely wound skeins are hung to dry in a warmed drying room. They are lastly wound and wrapped onto spindles ready to be sold to other makers and manufacturers in various industries.

Eileen Schiazza and daughter Angela Taylor have worked here for over 23 years.

Eileen Schiazza and daughter Angela Taylor have worked here for over 23 years.


Presidents Letter

Majid Jarah has a terrific letter on the website which I think clearly expresses what Huntingdon is all about.

"Dear friends and potential customers,

I arrived in the US after graduating from a textile university in Manchester, England. I began my career working as a purchasing agent for Huntingdon Yarn Mill. About 14 years ago, I took a leap of faith and purchased the Mill. With 30 years of textile experience behind me, I am very proud to be a domestic manufacturer of textiles in the USA.

We here at Huntingdon are a team of 50 people who hope to continue our work for many more years to come. We are truly a family run business. Jesse, our Plant Manager, has been working in the textile industry most of his life. Barbara, our Office Manager, has been working at the company for over 25 years. Her mother, Loretta, has worked here for over 50 years before retiring three years ago. Barbara’s daughter also worked with us until three years ago. My wife, Fay, works with the Dye House as well as in our Marketing Department. My daughters, Ranna and Sarah, work in the office part time whenever they have time off from school.

As a family business, we stay true to several core values with suppliers and customers. We purchase raw materials from domestic manufacturers as much as possible; saving our supplier’s job in turn insures our own. There is a glorified desire among the American people for saving American jobs, but when it comes time to take action, we become reluctant to make the necessary changes.

Buying products from overseas may seem more cost-efficient, but the result is not necessarily more quality-efficient.  Domestic Manufacturers are still making the best products in the world. However, if we do not take action now we will lose the valuable and accessible resources they provide. The most reliable wool and cotton spinners are still in the US. Believe it or not, our company is shipping Novelty yarns to China where they are made into garments before being shipped back to America.

Last year, we had a booth at the spin Expo show in New York City. Most of out young design visitors were surprised to know that there was still a textile mill operating in Philadelphia. At the same time, the large fashion companies are saying that their customers are demanding American made products. When I asked “Why are we not able to sell more of our products to internationally renowned American companies”, I was told that it was a set mentality. Designers who have a choice between an American-made product and a more expensive European product will vote against domestic manufacturing in the US under the false pretense that the quality is not as good.

I have no doubt that the given the opportunity, US manufacturers are capable of producing a product as good as or better than overseas suppliers. We can offer consistency and reliability as a result. This will provide American jobs, which will be good for all of us.

I would like to take this opportunity to prove that we can withstand the test of comparison.

Thank you,

Majid Jaraha
The President"

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If you are looking into or are interested in production of your own yarn visit www.hymill.com . Special thanks to Karen Randal and the Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce for facilitating this trip.

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THINGS WE LOVE - NOVEMBER 2014

It’s no surprise that we at Analog love the use of wood in new and surprising ways, which is why we instantly fell in love with these beautiful wooden necklaces by women’s wear collection Supra Endura. Mixing wooden links and a colorful elastic material, each one is hand-made here in Philadelphia and can even be customized with a variety of wood stains, colors, and lengths to suit your specific tastes. For each necklace purchased $2 are donated to the non-profits Urban Tree Connection and Gowanus Canal Conservancy, so you’re not only getting a stylish, modern accessory, but also helping out some great causes. If you’re interested in these attractive and eye-catching statements, email info@supraendura.com to place your order! 


Puzzles are always a great way to pass the time or to save for a rainy day. However, they aren’t always the most attractive objects. That is until Logifaces appeared before us. These concrete cast prisms are beautiful mini-sculptures on their own, but are part of a bigger, more complex puzzle. Inspired by ancient puzzle games, the set of 16 prisms is a logic puzzle that can prove difficult for even the cleverest gamer. The goal is to form one continuous surface and the beauty is that there is more than one solution. While that may sound simple, these unassuming blocks are trickier than you think. We especially love the game’s ability to be played solo or in a group. One set will cost you $70 on the company’s current Indiegogo, but it’s worth it for this versatile puzzle that can switch from plaything to tabletop art in a second. 


While apartment living offers its own rewards, it does have its hindrances. One of which is the often-limited ability to garden or grow your own produce.  While some spaces offer a communal garden or have room for such things, others are not as lucky. This is where The Garden Apartment's Nomad Planter comes in handy. A simple and versatile planter, this container is made from locally sourced, scrapped boat sails straight from the Bronx. Its ability to easily go from one location to the next, or change from an elegant hanging pot, to a tabletop planter gives the Nomad its edge. Perfect for growing fresh herbs in the kitchen, this modernist space-saving planter will add a great accent to any interior. Each one is made here in the USA and can be shipped in a simple flat-pack envelope. For only $38 these will make a great addition to any urban foodie's life. 

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THE WANDERLUST SERIES: Grand Teton National Park

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THE WANDERLUST SERIES: Grand Teton National Park

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"As we set off up Hwy. 89, we could feel the air change temperatures as the elevation grew. Our goal - to reconnect with nature on land and water, so we brought our Old Town Canoe along for the journey." - Greg Rakozy

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As the night descended upon us, we drove the Shadow Mountain trail till we set up camp 6500ft above sea level. The stars are everything when you are up that high. The next morning, we set off on foot with cameras in hand to Hidden Falls. Taking a quick moment for a mountain lake shower." - Greg Rakozy

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Artist to Watch: Anila Quayyum Agha


Anila Quayyum Agha - Intersections

Premiered at the Artprize event in Grand Rapids, Michigan, Intersections by Pakistani-artist Anila Quayyum Agha is a beautiful and simple large-scale installation. Agha created an intricate pattern taking inspiration from the geometrical shapes and designs found in many Islamic sacred spaces. She then crafted a 6.5ft wooden cube cut out with the pattern.

From the center of the piece a single bulb illuminates the work, casting delicate ethereal shadows onto every surrounding surface. Having the piece suspended in the middle of the room creates an eerie appearance despite its stunning shadows.

The influence of Islamic culture is apparent in this piece with even the wooden cube looking reminiscent to the famous pilgrimage site of Mecca. However, the name Intersections comes from her interest with the famous Alahambra, viewing it as a perfect mix of European and Islamic culture.

“For me the familiarity of the space visited at the Alhambra palace and the memories of another time and place from my past, coalesced in creating this project” says the artist. Agha won both the public and juried vote for the 2014 Artprize, which wrapped up on October 12th.

All images courtesy of ArtPrize  


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