Inspired by Tom Hodgkinson’s talk at the Hello Etsy conference (along with a cover-to- cover read of his newest book, Brave Old World: A Practical Guide to Husbandry, or the Fine Art of Looking After Yourself, and a stubborn cold that followed me home from Texas), I decided to spend the weekend being idle – or at least as idle as I can be with my temperament and a five year old at home.
In the introduction, page xiii, Hodgkinson explains that the word ‘husbandry’ means “nurturing animals, crops, your children, yourself.” Brave Old World is written in the form of a monthly calendar or almanac, of sorts, that draws beautiful quotes and recipes from great authorities on husbandry like, Hesiod (8th century BC), known as the father of Greek didactic poetry, Virgil (70 BC), Pliny the Elder (AD23-79), John Evelyn (1620-1706) and John Seymour (1914-2004). Continue reading
About a year after beginning my work with what is now Alabama Chanin, I was managing the company operations in Alabama with one employee, Abbie (after whom our “Abbie’s Flower” stencil is named).
We were still working in the little three bedroom brick ranch house at Lovelace Crossroads. I was actually living in one side of the house and running the design and production out of the other side of the house. And when I say running, I really mean undertaking the whole production. I spent my days sorting and washing t-shirts, cutting garments for orders, stenciling them, packing them for sewing and sending them out to our sewers – all of this with a head-set permanently in place for the constantly ringing phone. At that moment, I could barely keep up with all of the artisans that wanted to sew, communicate with customers and still manage the production deliveries.
April, one of our very first sewers (and soon to be highlighted here), kept saying to me that she knew this man named Steven who would be perfect to help me. For whatever reason, it seems that I never found time to get him into the office. He finally arrived one gray December day wearing a suit and his University of North Alabama football ring. I was in my Alabama t-shirt, skirt and a work belt made from a pair of old jeans. He seemed like a gift from heaven and I asked him if he wanted to “go home, change clothes and come back to work.” I remember him smiling and answering that maybe he could “start tomorrow?” He reminded me recently that he was our “1st Male Employee.”
One of our favorite places to visit - Refueled – has a beautiful new look. (And we are thrilled to be shown as a sponsor at the bottom of the page.) While we were working on a project last month, I had a chance to catch up with Chris Brown – Refueled’s creator and creative director:
I know very little about you. What do you do when you aren’t doing Refueled?
Refueled, Inc., encompasses a number of things: publishing, design and film. As creative director behind all three entities of the company, I keep quite busy on a daily basis. Refueled magazine is published bi-yearly, spring/summer and fall/winter. Developing features, working with contributors, collaborating with photographers, and hitting the road for ideas and inspiration never stops. Once an issue drops, I am knee-deep in the next.
A perfect list from page 67 of Simply Imperfect: Revisiting the Wabi-Sabi House:
The Wabi-sabi Cleaning Cupboard
Hydrogen peroxide to remove mold and disinfect
Club soda to clean and shine fixtures and windows
Vinegar to cut grease and lime deposits and soap buildup, deodorize toilet, remove film on floors
Baking soda to scour and remove smudges or scuffs
Lemon juice to remove grease and tarnish
Salt mixed with water to destroy bacteria
Baking soda with vinegar rinse for stainless steel
Olive oil to polish furniture (mix 3 parts oil to 1 part vinegar for a cleaner shine)
If you can’t be with us in Berlin tomorrow for Hello Etsy, check this out:
“If you can’t make a DIY Summit in your area, be sure to tune in LIVE in our Online Labs. You can watch from anywhere in the world! Use this handy timezone conversion tool to find what the Eastern Standard Timezone converts to for your region. Be sure to RSVP for each event so you receive an email reminder to tune in. Use the #HelloEtsy tag on Twitter to join in the global conversation all weekend long!”
Use the arrows at the top of the photographs at the Online Lab to scroll through all of the great talks.
Natalie Chanin – Connecting Your Business to Your Community
Saturday, September 17 from 8:00 AM to 8:30 AM EDT
See you there!
When I think of the philosophy of wabi-sabi, Burning Man and a Mustang Convertible are not the first things that pop into my mind. However, it is this sort of dichotomy that seems to define Robyn Griggs Lawrence… environmentalist, mother, writer, maker, visionary, mover, and shaker. Robyn has been kind enough to share a bit of herself and work as we continue to explore all that is wabi-sabi.
Below you will find some answers that Robyn graciously agreed to supply. They appear in their original unedited form, her prose was too lovely and thoughtful to alter.
Mending is not something we – as a culture – spend a lot of time doing these days. Fast fashion and mass consumerism has taught us to simply throw older or imperfect items away and replace them with newer versions. I am all for the “Sewing Schoolyard” – let’s teach ourselves and our kids to mend – a satisfying task.
My favorite, 10-year old tea towels have seen better days; but, I just can’t find the perfect replacement. I use our Alabama Chanin Tea Towels for most kitchen tasks but these have just given me so much kitchen love that I can’t bear to part with them.
In perfect wabi-sabi style, Olivia – our Studio Assistant (and budding pattern maker) – mended my old tea towels using scraps of our organic cotton jersey and Button Craft thread. Using applique in combination with seed, whip and eyelet stitches, she repaired the holes and covered the stains. Perfect.
From page 51 of Wabi-Sabi for Artists, Designers, Poets & Philosophers:
“Beauty can be coaxed out of ugliness,
Wabi-sabi is ambivalent about separating beauty from non-beauty or ugliness. The beauty of wabi-sabi is, in one respect, the condition of coming to terms with what you consider ugly. Wabi-sabi suggests that beauty is a dynamic event that occurs between you and something else. Beauty can spontaneously occur at any moment given the proper circumstances, context, or point of view. Beauty is thus an altered state of consciousness, an extraordinary moment of poetry and grace.”
While working on my own wabi-sabi this week, I came across the work of friend Carolyn Strauss and her partner in slowLab – Alastair Fuad-Luke – on page 30-31 of Simply Imperfect: Revisiting the Wabi-Sabi House.
I was reminded of the importance of these six principles:
Introducing our Knotted Necklaces – which are also a great belts.
Shown below styled with our:
Anna’s Garden Embroidered Tank and Paisley Skirt