This week, we highlight the Finnish design company, Marimekko. As a long-standing leader in the fashion and design worlds, Marimekko has created timeless and colorful prints for over 60 years. I’ve followed the company from my days at NC State University and, as a designer, I have deep admiration and respect for Armi Ratia, the founder who created an empire by seeking beauty through design.
After World War II, Armi Ratia, a one-time weaver who was trained in industrial design, took interest in fabric printing; she wanted to bring happiness and color to distraught, post-war Finland. Working with full-time designers and buying from freelance artists, she began printing designs on fabrics that we now identify with an era, a culture, and a lifestyle.
This year, as we celebrate Real Women and what they mean in our lives, we thought it essential to include the perspectives of both men and women. So, beginning today, we will be offering stories, thoughts, and remembrances from men of the great women in their lives.
When I was a kid in the 1970s, one of my favorite things to do was go to dinner at the Sam-Pan Chinese restaurant with my mom and my aunt Carlynn “Snoonie” Calhoun. They would order wine and Egg Foo Young and Chop Suey, and I would tear into the wonton soup and the pepper steak, and on a good night I’d be able to get a Shirley Temple if I played my cards right. They would spend hours there, telling their same old stories, sometimes ragging on the idiots in their lives (who they still seemed to have a deep affection for), but mostly telling stories about the menagerie that made up their circle of friends from 1950s Central Florida: two girlfriends who came out as gay in the 1960s and carried switchblades to handle anybody who didn’t like it, their friend in the iron lung (whom Snoonie liked to take to the Steak & Ale with her, mostly just to see peoples’ reactions), and many other characters who could easily have been created by Elmore Leonard.
After listening to them for awhile, I would spend the rest of my time running up and down the sidewalk outside the restaurant – sometimes over to the pond in a park across the street to catch frogs, sometimes ogling the toys at the Toy King. But, eventually I’d find myself in Snoonie’s car listening to her country music tapes. I’d often fall asleep there and finally get woken up and sleepily ride home with my mom.
It’s those evenings I think of when I think what a friendship should be. Listening to them enjoy each other’s company, never getting tired of the same old stories and arguments, never just saying what the other wanted to hear. That’s my model for how friends should interact and what a real friend should be.
Snoonie’s gone now. She and my mom are just two of the strong women who seemed to have filled up my life growing up – self-sufficient women who didn’t take shit off of anybody, but in the most amusing ways. It’s hard for me to single one woman out. But it’s those nights outside the Sam-Pan that I learned my respect and awe of women. I wish I could drive by there right now and take a run up the sidewalk.
Newsletter #3 highlights our textile design collaboration with Anna Maria Horner, nine new shades of Natural Dye Organic Cotton Jersey, and upcoming workshops and events all over the country.
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xoNatalie and all of us @ Alabama Chanin
We spend a good bit of time in the kitchen, planning meals and testing out new recipes to share, while I spend evenings trying to please the taste buds of my picky eater. I’ve found that kitchen twine has a number of uses, including trussing or tying meat when cooking or when you want to keep a stuffing firmly placed inside of something. Use it to tie fresh herbs in a bouquet garni or bouquet garnish (see recipe below) or wrap bacon on the outside of your roast or bird. I also use my twine for tying up birthday presents and pony tails—and stuffed animals at my house are often doctored with bits of twine. You might also try making our Knotted Necklace with this twine. It is thinner than our Cotton Jersey Pulls but made in the same way.
Twine, especially for use in the kitchen, shouldn’t be made from synthetic materials (they can melt or chemicals can seep into your food), and we’ve found this organic, non-toxic option works perfectly.
It’s been unseasonably cool these last weeks. Most days, it’s been too chilly to fling the windows wide open and really enjoy the weather. Though we’re only just beginning to see the signs of an Alabama spring season, we’re preparing our supplies to begin the task of spring cleaning. We’ve previously shared some wabi-sabi cleaning tips, but thought we would share another post of our favorite cleaning tips and recipes for those of you who are also in the spring cleaning spirit.
The Texas Playboys Baseball Club is a collective of architects, artists, filmmakers, musicians, photographers and entrepreneurs based in Austin, Texas. Member and long time friend, Jack Sanders and his crew have challenged Alabama Chanin and Billy Reid to one of their infamous baseball games. We welcome them to Florence and our studio, with a series of events – open to the public.
Join us Thursday, April 4th for an artist talk with the Texas Playboys as part of the Alabama Chanin Visiting Artist Series.
And Saturday, April 6th, the Alabama Slammers (aka the Billy Reid crew + the Alabama Chanin squad) take on the Texas Playboys in a (friendly) game of backyard baseball.
Free Admission to both events
All are welcome
Thursday, April 4, 2013 Visiting Artist Series
Good conversation + cocktails
7pm – 9pm
Artist Talk @ 7:30
462 Lane Drive, Florence, Alabama
Saturday, April 6, 2013 Texas Playboys vs. Alabama Slammers
2 pm – until
Mike D. Lane Field
UNA Campus, Florence, Alabama
Learn more about the Texas Playboys here.
For more information contact: office(at)alabamachanin.com or call +1.256.760.1090
Last week we wrote about Dust-to-Digital’s Drop on Down in Florida, a 2 CD release highlighting African American music traditions in Florida, paired with a 224-page hardcover book. Dust-to-Digital is a unique recording company: part archivist, part celebrator of cultural artifacts. We will be talking about several of these awesome (by the original definition) releases over the next few weeks.
…i listen to the wind that obliterates my traces: music in vernacular photographs, compiled by Steve Roden, is a 2 CD set and 184-page hardback book exploring an unusual collection of recordings and old photographs related to music.
This month’s Desktop of the Month celebrates the arrival of spring. Variations of reds and pinks highlight our Daisy stencil, creating a strong contrast against the Natural colored background.
Taken from our new Collection, the Daisy appliqué features red variegated embroidery floss sewn with a whipstitch. We use this technique on our A-line Dress and a variety of jackets and coats to add a colorful depth to our collection.
This hi-resolution photograph, for use as your computer desktop background, is now available to download from our Resource Downloads.
Southern Makers is a one day event that celebrates creativity of all types in Alabama. Our state has a rich artisanal history in textiles, food, farming, literature, art and design. Southern Makers will explore Alabama-based food and design with panel discussions, artist talks, cooking demonstrations and tastings, workshops, and a Market Place Bazaar featuring wares and goods from talented southern artisans and chefs.
Panel discussion with Natalie Chanin and other participants on Transportation and Traditional Industries @ 6pm.
Alabama Chanin Two-Hour Workshop with Natalie + staff @ 2:30 pm.
$155 includes all materials to complete an Alabama Chanin DIY kit for the workshop only.
Register here for the Two-Hour Workshop.
*Event is open to the general public – $10 advance ticket/ $20 at the door. Additional fees for workshops, beer garden, and purchase of craft items.
**All proceeds from the event will benefit EAT South, a non-profit organization, committed to promoting sustainable growth through education, agriculture, and sustainable design.
This weekend marks the 15th year of the Doo-Nanny festival, simply called ‘Doo-Nanny’. The folk art festival has grown and evolved into a temporary community filled with creative expression that occupies Butch’s 80-acre farm once a year.
When Butch speaks of the history of Doo-Nanny, his story begins with a turnip root that was plowed up in his garden by friend John Henry Toney. The turnip “had a face in it,” so he drew a picture of it and sold in a nearby junk shop to a folk art collector. And so, in 1996, Doo-Nanny was born out of a roadside art show. Years later, the folk art festival merged with a “lo-fi” movie festival and is now complete with solar showers, an outdoor community kitchen, art vendors, and culminates with a burning effigy for the celebration on Saturday night.
Ready for art and making, campers, artists, musicians, and free spirits arrive here for fun, food, music, and experimental architecture. Children run free (but supervised). I’ve heard first-time attendees say nothing could have prepared them for the spectacle of the weekend; this year’s event is certain to be another good one.