Category Archives: THE SCHOOL OF MAKING

REPORT FROM PENLAND: MONDAY 7/9/12

I flew out of hot and dry North Alabama on Saturday afternoon and woke up in room #2 surrounded by the cool mountain airs of Penland, North Carolina.

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OUR COTTON FIELD + AN ALABAMA DROUGHT

I was driving through the desert of New Mexico en route to Taos talking about our cotton. I can’t remember a summer as scorchingly hot as this one–and there were some hot ones in the late 60s and early 70s. In the last weeks, temperatures have consistently been over 100. If we have a few more summers like this one, our landscape might morph into something more like the desert. While a desert can be a beautiful landscape, it is much different from our home here in Alabama.

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MADE IN AMERICA (PART 2)

We recently shared companies that are making quality products in the United States. To continue this ‘Made in America’ post from last week, we feature another round of companies who practice the same excellence and pride.

Some of these products have been staples in my daily wear for ages; they’ve held up to the test of time. I look forward to incorporating newer products into my lifestyle for years to come. Please share with us your experience with these makers, as well as any other companies, artisans, or manufacturers from the United States that have a presence in your wardrobe, and life.

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RED, WHITE, AND BLUE CERAMICS

When I was working on our Heath Ceramics collaboration, we worked with colors rooted in the Southern vernacular and my upbringing in the 1960s and 70s in Alabama. When I look at the dishes, I see parts of my childhood in the shades of red and blue.

The chosen red is appropriately called red clay, as it was inspired by the color of Alabama soil. This miraculous color used to bring tears to my eyes as I would fly in from my time living in Europe.  As a child, our summer clothes were stained with the color. The bottoms of our feet were permanently red clay colored after the temperature reached 78 degrees.  Gillian Welch’s song “Red Clay Halo” cannot say it any better:

All the girls all dance with the boys from the city,
And they don’t care to dance with me.
Now it ain’t my fault that the fields are muddy,
And the red clay stains my feet.

Being a barefoot child who played in the garden, I knew this color intimately. This is the color of hard-working farmers and farm wives; it is the story of a community.

Southern musicians have written about Alabama’s red soil for decades. EmmyLou Harris’ “Red Dirt Girl” is another iconic example.

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MAKESHIFT 2012 + ONE LAST THOUGHT

MAKESHIFT + ONE LAST THOUGHT
Today we share our final MAKESHIFT post (for this year) of observations and thoughts from participants.

Many have already written, photographed, or posted about their experiences during the week.

Ellie Levine at STC Craft  created a timeline of the MAKESHIFT events – a beautiful recap using images and social media platforms which you can read here.

Compiled below are reflections and lingering thoughts to help continue our MAKESHIFT conversation into next year.

Keep in mind (and close to heart) what is valuable and inspiring as you design, create, and make.

xoNatalie

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MAKESHIFT + A DIY POP-UP SHOP

As part of MAKESHIFT, we collaborated on a pop-up shop with the Billy Reid team in their New York store. The shop was called ‘Crafting Fashion,’ and featured hand-crafted garments, hats, shoes, jewelry, and home décor from seasoned designers who pair fashion and craft beautifully.

We encourage you to join with crafters, makers, and artists to curate pop-up shops in your community. Find a space- or make a space, work towards creative collaboration, and share your vision with your community.

If you’ve already done so, we’d love to hear about it.

xoNatalie

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MAKESHIFT 2012: CRAFTING DESIGN + A BLOODY MARY

We finished our week of MAKESHIFT with Crafting Design, a chair workshop hosted at Partners & Spade in New York City.

From the New York Times piece “Pull Up a Chair, Then Fix It” by Andrew Wagner:

“Last Saturday, as part of a conference called MakeShift, Natalie Chanin, the founder of the fashion label Alabama Chanin, held a workshop to rehabilitate some of these castoffs at Partners & Spade on Great Jones Street. The event, which she called Crafting Design, was dedicated to resurrecting the bent, twisted and broken remnants of what the poet David McFadden has described as ‘the most ubiquitous and important design element in the domestic environment’: the chair.”

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MAKESHIFT 2012 HIGHLIGHTS

After taking time to reflect on our recent week in New York for MAKESHIFT, I’m already thinking about MAKESHIFT 2013.

Here are some highlights from the conversation at The Standard Talks. We reported the MAKESHIFT events here on the blog throughout the week, and had great press coverage from the New York Times, Style.com, Page Six, and Jezebel. Here’s a recap of our memorable conversation.

From The Standard Talks panel discussion:

Andrew Wagner began with a grand introduction and also referenced Ettore Sottsass’s essay, ‘When I Was a Very Small Boy’.

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UPDATE: PLANTING ORGANIC COTTON

Last Friday, before we left for New York for an inspiring week of MAKESHIFT, we received wonderful news: the cotton seed had been planted. The week before, Jimmy, K.P., and I met early in the morning at the site of the cotton field, prepared to spend the day planting. However, the soil needed to be broken up more finely in order to allow the planter to properly cover the seed. This set us back a few days, but after another day of plowing to break the soil, Jimmy was finally ready to plant.

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