Category Archives: THE SCHOOL OF MAKING

SEED BOMB UPDATE

A few weeks ago, we took to the streets of Florence to spread wildflower seeds guerrilla-style. We tossed our homemade seed “bombs”, seed encapsulated clay balls, into alleys and onto vacant areas – hoping to add more color and beauty to our community.

With the amount of rain that we have been receiving lately, every growing thing has been sprouting up and up toward the sky. Yesterday, retraced our steps to see if our dispersed wildflowers were making progress. There were no full blooms yet; however, we are starting to see small dots of the color purple in Olivia’s yard.

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MAKESHIFT 2012: INTRODUCING ANDREW WAGNER

When Andrew Wagner was asked to moderate the MAKESHIFT panel conversation as part of New York Design Week 2012, he jokingly insisted that he be considered MC rather than moderator. That’s exactly the type of robust, experienced personality I look forward to sharing the stage with next week at the Standard Talks, as we discuss the intersection of design, fashion, craft, and DIY.

We’re happy to introduce Andrew on our blog and welcome his participation in MAKESHIFT. His long- running list of big DIY ideas and achievements makes him a veteran in that community. As “What You Make of It” columnist for the  New York Times, he has recently delved instructions on how to turn an old rusty bicycle into a beautiful hanging lamp- Isamu Noguchi style- and how to repurpose egg carton trays into stunning and sturdy stools.

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THE HEART: UPDATES FROM THE FIELD

We left off two weeks ago in search of a two-row planter that will help get our cottonseed in the ground. Fortunately, we were able to find one locally. The planter’s shovels have been adjusted. The soil has been finely chopped. There have been conference calls between the field, the Factory office, and Kelly’s office in Texas. More thanks to Kelly Pepper.

Upon receiving our soil test results, we are determining the proper nutrients needed and the best organic fertilizers for the field. Staff at Auburn University has been helpful answering questions, and we’ve had the chance to learn more about the organic certification process through a local advisor.

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TART APPLE PIE + Q&A WITH JOHN BIELENBERG

John Bielenberg and his work with PieLab aren’t new to Alabama Chanin, or our blog. We were curious what John has been up to, so we caught up with him between his travels to learn more about Project M, PieLab, and recent goings on in Greensboro, Alabama.

We also got our hands on a delicious recipe from the pop-up café, PieLab, for our Wednesday Recipes.

Their Tart Apple Pie with White Cheddar Crust has a beautiful lattice top that looks like the pies I ate growing up. Combining the tartness of the apples with the savory of the white cheddar makes for a fabulous slice of pie. If only it weren’t a three hour drive down to Greensboro to get a slice. Recipe then Q&A with John to follow:


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CRAFT

For the past few weeks, my mind has been on the subject of ‘craft’ even more than usual as I continue to work on MAKESHIFT: SHIFTING THOUGHTS ON DESIGN, FASHION, COMMUNITY, CRAFT & DIY- a series of events, discussions, and workshops held during ICFF New York Design Week.

How appropriate it is to have received this beautifully hand-printed postcard from our friends at Rural Studio.

For more information visit www.ruralstudio.org.

ROSANNE CASH: WORN STORIES (INTERVIEWED BY JESSAMYN)

Rosanne Cash - Sam Rayner, photographer 1
Last month, we introduced Jessamyn, a new contributor to this blog. Sharing the story of the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fires cast a sad light on the history of labor laws in the U.S; however, she showed us how to find better joys in fashion, ecology, and ethics. She has since written about the meaning of D.I.Y.

This week, in a conversation between Jessamyn and Rosanne Cash—another dear friend and colleague—Rosanne shares sentimental stories on the garments that occupy her life and closet.

Please welcome back Jessamyn – and Rosanne - part of the growing heart and soul of Alabama Chanin.

Rosanne and Jessamyn will also be participating in MAKESHIFT: SHIFTING THOUGHTS ON DESIGN, FASHION, COMMUNITY, CRAFT & DIY. Visit here to learn more about MAKESHIFT and its participants.

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MAKE, DO, CHANGE

Spending the past couple of days in the San Francisco Bay Area, I’ve seen firsthand the “making” spirit that defines the unique culture and character of life here. Alabama Chanin feels very connected to–and inspired by the creativity, craftsmanship, quality, and local manufacturing in this community.

Watch Monocle’s video which highlights some of the craftsmen and advocates that are pushing the maker movement ahead:  SFMade, New Resource Bank, and HEATH Ceramics.

From Make, Do, Change:

“ …that creativity is very strongly back to appreciating good craftsmanship and quality in physical objects, and the idea that making products and working with your hands is something to be respected…”

-Robin Petravic, of HEATH Ceramics.

 

THE HEART: PLANTING WITH BILLY REID AND OUR FRIEND, JIMMY

Yesterday, a well awaited package was delivered to the Factory: organic, or “black” cottonseed, as I’ve learned it is called. In our effort to grow organic cotton, we’ve taken a step-by-step approach. We started with the seed, and now we move on to the land. We are learning as we go, and taking every experience to heart.

The search for seed began and taught us some of the important facts of organic cotton and cottonseed. Organizations like Textile Exchange and Texas Organic Cotton Marketing Cooperative lent their support and gave us direction in our search for non-GMO, non-treated cottonseed. In our conversation with Lynda Grose at Sustainable Cotton Project, Lynda shared her thoughts on organic, sustainable textiles, and the importance of knowing and working with your local farmers.

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D.I.T.

What does D.I.Y. mean to you?

I posed this question to Cathy Davidson, one of the world’s most important thinkers on education and the workplace in the 21st century. Her new book, Now You See It: How the Brain Science of Attention Will Transform the Way We Live, Work, and Learn, is a must-read for educators, parents, and students. “I’m not sure I believe in D.I.Y. anything,” she wrote.

Every self is connected to every other, and, even when we think we are “doing it ourselves,” we are summoning the memories, gestures, and hopes of so much and so many gone before. Instead, I like to think about peer learning and community learning, where we all work together toward some goal, filling in one another’s vacancies and blind spots as others fill in ours. This doesn’t mean there aren’t mentors, but only that the position and status of the mentor aren’t fixed.  The person who intends to learn, finds herself the teacher–and vice versa. That’s what D.I.Y. learning means to me, in school and lifelong, the surprise of never knowing where you will learn, where you will teach, or even where the boundaries between those two might lie.

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THE HEART: 12 FOR LIFE

Thanks to Ari Weinzweig at Zingerman’s, I have been working on a “Vision of Greatness” for Alabama Chanin over the last few months (well, closer to a year to be more exact).  However, over the last few weeks, I feel that I made real progress and worked out a growth chart and mission statement that is a good fit for both me and for our staff (more on that soon).  Part of our Alabama Chanin growth mission includes committing ourselves to education on all levels and to finding even more ways to give back to our community.

Last month, we found a company – just around the corner from our own factory – who is doing just that.

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