Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Studio 1a.m. and Mio Culture

Studio 1a.m.

"Industrial Bloom Series"
Shavings of a high tech thermoplastic elastomer are the discarded result of the machining process. In this case they are used to create a beautiful delicate flower. I love the contrast of the white flower against the black cord.

"This Table Will Self Destruct"
With each order, a “pixel” is removed from the design, so that each owner receives a different, progressively deconstructed version of the original table.

Mio Culture

"Capsule Light"
These lights are very interesting for many reasons. One is that they have the texture of wool which is odd for a light. Another is that they are 2 different colors not only to have a dark and light contrast, but to have one color direct light and have the other diffuse it.

Monday, April 28, 2008



You’ve made curtains out of newspapers, designed vases from plastic water bottles, and used tin cans to feed your cats. You’re pretty industrious.

Either that, or you’re headed for a breakdown.

Before people start to wonder, try RecycleBank. The more you recycle, the more you earn in “money” that you can use at participating stores.

The earth-friendly organization will drop off a 35-, 64-, or 96-gallon container. You throw all that recyclable stuff inside (no separating) and put it out on recycling days. A truck scans the barcode with your address, weighs what you’ve got, and adds that to your coupons.

Log onto the site to see what you’ve earned. Then use your credits toward purchases at more than 100 participating stores and enjoy watching your hard work pay off — both materially and spiritually.

Call it an industrious revolution.

Available online at recyclebank.com.

article from dailycandy.com

Design Within Reach

April's edition of the magazine Design WIthin Reach is all about being green. It's called "What Is Green?" There's a quote inside that I really like: "Green is creating maximum effect from a minimum of materials." I think that ties in a lot to our current project because I think a lot of us are trying to do just that.

I scanned some pages of this issue that I found to be particularly interesting. The pages I chose to upload are on rug designers. One is named Angela Adams who uses 100% New Zealand wool with 100% cotton monk's cloth backings attached using a natural rubber latex adhesive. The other featured in the magazine is Melina Raissnia who uses 100% lamb's wool, vegetable dyes, and no chemicals or toxins.

"From the production of synthetic carpet to its installation in the home, there are toxins and hazardous chemicals used at nearly every step of the process. Most carpets today are made from fibers derived from petroleum. They are bonded to their backings with natural or synthetic latex. They are treated with pesticides, bleaches, dyes, stain protectants, and anti-static solutions. Add to this mixture anti-bacterial and anti-fungal agents, as well as chemical baths containing substances like chlorine, bromine, and phosphorous to render the carpet non-flammable.

What is wrong with this picture? Many of these substances are not approved for use in our clothing or bedding, for instance, and are not meant to come in contact with our skin. And yet, how many of us have pets or children who crawl, nap, and play on our carpets? How many of us sit or lie on the floor when watching television? How many of us live in energy-efficient new homes which seal the air in, not allowing fresh air to replace the outgasses of our shiny, stain resistant, flame-retardant, insect, fungus, and bacteria-proof carpeting?"


green rugs by various designers that I love

Friday, April 25, 2008

BMA Visit

I went to the BMA today with my mom and as we were leaving we stopped in the gift shop...I mean who can resist? That shop has the coolest things! I found this branch vase that I absolutely fell in love with and I had to have it. Go figure huh? Branches. I'm soooo into them lately. On the drive back we pulled over on the side of the road and I stole some beautiful flowers that were on someone's tree to put in the vase. Here are some pics:

Look at the attention to detail on the bottom of the vase. I mean the artist even went as far as to make the bottom look realistic. So cool. I'm in love.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Slime Mold AKA Physarum Polycephalum

I've decided that for my materials project I'm going to base my design off of slime mold. Yes, slime mold. Out of all of the forms I was looking at, the grossest one seems to be the most beautiful and also the least explored.

Monday, April 21, 2008


unofficial Earth Day flag by John McConnell

Tomorrow, April 22nd is Earth Day.

Responding to widespread environmental degradation, Gaylord Nelson, a United States Senator from Wisconsin, called for an environmental teach-in, or Earth Day, to be held on April 22, 1970. Over 20 million people participated that year, and Earth Day is now observed each year on April 22 by more than 500 million people and national governments in 175 countries.

It is intended to inspire awareness of and appreciation for the Earth's environment.

According to Flags of the World, the Ecology Flag was created by cartoonist Ron Cobb, and was published for the first time in October 25, 1969. The flag was patterned after the flag of the United States, and had thirteen stripes alternating green and white. Its canton was green with a yellow Theta. It originally had a symbol that was a combination of the letters "E" and "O" taken from the words "Environment" and "Organism", respectively. Later flags used either a Theta because of its historic use as a warning symbol, or the Peace Symbol. Theta would later become associated with Earth Day.

source: wikipedia.org

"The Price of Gold" by Susan Kingsley

The process of profitably extracting gold uses cyanide to leach the metal from crushed rock. When and if the cyanide leaks into the ground, there is no known way to get rid of it. Because there are few environmental standards in place, the results can (and often are) catastrophic for the areas around the mines. Migratory animals that visit the ponds of cyanide-laced water are killed and leaking cyanide and heavy metals kill wildlife, damage ecosystems, ruin the drinking water supply, and destroy local economies and societies. Prior to cyanide, mercury was frequently used. Mercury produces toxic fumes that severely damage the central nervous system of childbearing women and children.

Because the mining industry is such a powerful political lobby, there are still no environmental standards in place for hard rock mining to protect surface and ground water from toxic waste.

“Not only is gold not money, it is not a necessary commodity. It doesn't produce heat, or power, or transport. It doesn't provide clothing, or shelter, or supply us with food. Although approximately 12% of the gold demand every year is used in industrial application dentistry, medicine, and electronics that number is less than the 15% of total demand met by recycling. Every year, at least 85% of the gold produced is made into jewelry.”

“The vast discrepancy between the happy, carefree, gold wearing women pictured in the ads and the realities of gold in today's world must be addressed. Gold bears an invisible tarnish of misery and devastation. It is a stain that cannot be polished away. While the market price for gold may decline, the human and environmental costs keep rising: dead rivers, polluted watersheds, exploited native communities, abused miners, hoarding, and profiteering are dragging us into the ditch. All for the love of gold, the most beautiful and valued of the Earth's many gifts.”

This woman doesn't look like she has a care in the world, wearing her beautiful gold bracelet...

...meanwhile, these are the goldmining conditions in Ghana:

these last 2 photos are from an article I found on the web called "Ghana's gold inflicts heavy price"
by James Haselip

I.E. vs. E.G.

I came across another problem with my grammar while blogging - when to use i.e. and when to use e.g. I couldn't go on until I figured out the proper usage of each, and here they are. Again, I thought maybe this could be helpful to someone else. I copied and pasted this directly from About.com:

The Latin abbreviations "i.e." and "e.g." come up very frequently in writing and would probably come up more often if people were more sure of when it is right to use "i.e." and when "e.g." is required. To me, the only way to figure it out is to know what they stand for.

"I.e." stands simply for "that is," which written out fully in Latin is 'id est'. "I.e." is used in place of "in other words," or "it/that is." It specifies or makes more clear.

"E.g." means "for example" and comes from the Latin expression exempli gratia, "for the sake of an example," with the noun exemplum in the genitive to go with gratia in the ablative.

"E.g." is used in expressions similar to "including," when you are not intending to list everything that is being discussed.

Examples of i.e. and e.g.:
I.E. Id EstI'm going to the place where I work best, i.e., the coffee shop. [There is only one place that I am claiming is best for my work. By using "i.e.", I am telling you I am about to specify it.]E.G. Exempli GratiaAt the places where I work best, e.g., Starbuck's, I have none of the distractions I have at home. [There are lots of coffee shops I like, but Starbuck's is the only international one, so it's the only "example" that would work.]

"Some Groundwork"

This essay by Ron Graziani addresses the “Golden Opportunity,” a global collaboration of 80 artists in 2006 to contribute to an exhibition about the past, present or future of gold. This show was hosted by Ethical Metalsmiths, formed to stimulate demand for responsibly sourced materials as an investment in the future, social responsibility and a healthy environment.

“Our relationship with the earth has a lot to do with how humans relate with other humans” (e.g. environmental justice and human rights, capitalism and accountability). Graziani calls this “esthetic jurisprudence.”

Punctuating Titles

While posting my responses to these videos, articles, essays, and sections from books that we are supposed to be reading in preparation for our materials project, I realized I had no idea how to punctuate any of the titles! I found this online and I thought it was very helpful so I posted it up here...maybe it can help someone else too.


"Ethics of Materials" by Keith A. Lewis

This is an extremely powerful essay on the moral obligation of artists in choosing their materials. Keith Lewis discusses the impact of ivory for art – “each piece of ivory has a dead elephant tied to it” and “at least 80% of market ivory is illegal." In the same vein, exotic woods, gold and diamonds all have a heavy environmental and socio-political “burden” – death, slavery and pollution.

(pictures from WildlifeExtra.com from an article called "African Elephant Countries to Work Together to Thwart Poaching" which states that "At least 20,000 elephants are killed annually for their ivory and the lives of about 100 rangers are lost each year protecting them.")

Even in his review of the excuses people offer to not take action in the face of such catastrophic evil (“I don’t have the time to think about this”; I have a business to run”; “My customers will only buy things with ivory or diamonds in them”), Lewis claims it is immoral to cite powerlessness, because he says we have “a responsibility to try to make a difference, if only by a gesture.” Doing the right thing involves exploring alternate materials and sources, and educating ourselves and customers about “re-defining the precious." He makes the strong point that as artists, the things we make, what we make them out of, and the things that we do are great responsibilities.

The Cost of Gold

This 3 part series by Jane Perlez is extremely powerful.

Part 1
The Cost of Gold: 30 Tons an Ounce

India, Montana, Guatemala, and Ghana mines. Cyanide mines in Montana have polluted the water of the area. Mines in Ghana steal the water from the region (used for people and animals). Environmental hazards associated with gold production – an ounce of gold requires the removal of over 100 tons of rock. Open pit mines are drilled and blasted with explosives. Gold-containing ore is crushed, loaded on trucks or trains, and taken to ore heaps where it is flattened. The heap is soaked with cyanide solution to leach out the gold (through a series of steps) into pools of water at the base of the heap pads. It is then melted into gold ore, which contains impurities (e.g. silver and copper). It is then shipped to a refinery where it’s purified into bullion.

Part 2
The Cost of Gold: Treasure of Yanacocha

In Peru is the world’s most productive gold mine. It sits 13,000 feet high in the Andes. Mining isn’t bringing natives out of poverty but, rather, encroaches on their property and pollutes their water, causing water shortages from water contamination. Also has social/economic impact – corruption of authorities in cities. Finally, landscape loss – losing mountains and lagoons disappearing. Oppression, death, stealing natural resources. “Dirty” gold.

Part 3
Questions on the Cost of Gold

Copper and gold, in particular, are both often found in conjunction with sulfide rock that can produce acid and in turn release metal contaminants.

I found this pic on the RUST BELT research blog. It is of a mine in Montana and the paragraph below reads, "...today’s mining practices involve large open pit mines, and often use toxic chemicals such as cyanide and sulfuric acid to extract minerals like gold and copper."

The blog also says, "We started this blog after so much frustration in our own research, trying to access information from suppliers, processors, and other jewelers about their materials and methods. We hope that our research will be useful to other designers and help to create a more transparent jewelry manufacturing industry. We will continue to update. If you have any relevant information that you would like to post, please contact us." I think it's very cool that they are inviting others that are learning about this terrible problem to post their own thoughts on the blog.

What ia Product Design?

These pages from Laura Slack's book briefly discuss the meaning of product design and how it evolved with industry. They make me think about whether designers create a need for a product or respond to consumers' needs. I particularly liked the timeline of iconic products (like blue jeans and paper clips) and the corresponding key socio-political events and movements.

These pages also look at re-appropriation of objects into hybrids (blending existing objects into something new), information flow for optimal design (like the feedback loop between consumers communicating their needs to the designer in the research and conceptualization stages, and the designer then getting feedback from consumers to refine designed objects in the production and distribution stages), and design morality - namely design life span and impact on available resources. Design has consequences. This section really made me think about materials from a perspective of impact on the environment and impact on the economy.

Some quotes I particularly liked:

"Product design - the creation of an object that originates from design ideas - in the form of drawings, sketches, prototypes, models...can extend into the object's production, logistics, and marketing."
So, design is more than imagining and creating. It involves industrial production and the economics of selling those products.

"An object becomes a desirable product when it gives the appearance of having improved functionality."
Simple and sweet thought. I might add, "and/or having improved appeal" (by changing one's perspective or enjoyment).

"Design takes on the realms of art where a political, social or cultural point is made through a product."
This quote speaks about the often blurry lines between design and art, design and politics and design and social change.

Material Connexion

Some quotes that stuck out at me:

"A great design becomes successful if the right material is selected."

"Since materials provide a basic way to see the world around us, we are really looking at how the world is evolving."

George M. Beylerian and Andrew Dent think that if you take away the arbitrary distinctions made between labeling people as artists, painters, architects, craftsmen, or product designers, then they would all really be material innovators.

Michael Graves and Gaetano Pesce - design for Target
Craig Kauffman - uses an irridescent finish
Charles Worthen - silicone caulking
Gregory M. Beylerian - found objects
Kardash Onnig - large-scale sculptor
Aida Goganian - discarded materials
Robert Ebendorf - jewelry from recycled materials

Samuel Mockbee - "natural" architecture (ie. bamboo)
Lot-EK (Ada Tolla and Giuseppe Lignano) - recycled shipping containers
Kieran Timberlake Associates - brick
Festo AG & Co. - "Airtecture" with inflatable materials
Shigeru Ban - paper house

Fashion Designers:
Issey Miyake - material juxpapositions

Industrial Designers:
Reiko Sudo - textiles

Creative Caffeine #2

This exercise was a total disaster and didn't help me at all! I thought this would turn out great...drawing without looking should definitely create some very cool forms...but no. These were the four best, and they're still terrible.

Creative Caffeine #1

In this creative caffeine exercise, I thought of words that had to do with what I'm thinking about for my materials project (words in the left hand column), and then thought of what could possibly be an opposite for those words (right hand column). This was actually more difficult than I thought it would be.

For my project I'm thinking about using forms that are typically very thin and then using a material than would lend itself to this form. This exercise got me thinking about maybe doing a series for one particular object, using not only a material that could easily be made very thin, but then pushing materials that can't easily be made thin to their limits. The one word in particular that got me thinking about this was using cement because I typically don't think of cement as a material that can be made into a very thin object without cracking.

Thin - Thick
Crepe - Tortilla
Rice paper - Cardboard
Old dry leaves - Live fresh leaves
Wafers - Muffin
Film - Canvas
Capiz shells - Conch shells
Insect wing - Bat's wing
Sea fan (soft coral) - Brain coral (hard coral)
Skin - Bones
Stingray (no bones) - Fish (bones)
Flower petal - Tree branch
Glass - Cement
Finger nails - Claws
Potato chips - Potato wedges
Silk - Corduroy
Tissue paper - Wrapping paper
Egg shells - Coconut shell

Sunday, April 13, 2008


A diamond is forever.

A child's arm hacked off at the elbow will never grow back.

She will never wear a ring on that hand.

Diamonds cost more than money.


Boycott diamonds.

I came across this tonight while reading some more on blood diamonds and I thought it was very powerful. I wish I could say these words were my own but I copied and pasted them directly from this site:


This site brought me to another site called Green Diamonds where they invite you "to help clean or 'green' your diamond by supporting diamond mining restoration in Sierra Leone and bringing development and alternative livelihoods to those in need."

Friday, April 11, 2008

Making More Connections

I found this article in the April 2008 issue of Metropolis on these two designers who cofounded a company called Nervous System. Their work is very organic and cutting edge.

Their Radiolaria bracelet has a similar branching pattern to the venous system that inspired my blood diamonds project which is a cuff bracelet meant to look like veins that mimic those in the arm and wrist.

I'm pretty sure Jan has one of these bracelets that she frequently wears in black.

I'm making all of these connections right now and this is what is so good for me. This is one of the only ways I've found to get super excited about work and to get my brain stimulated and thinking - confidently - in terms of design.

Thursday, April 10, 2008


The craft show at the Smithsonian today was unbelievable. I have never seen so many beautiful things in one place. I had such a good time. I learned so much from Don about craft shows, metalsmithing, working with glass, selling, etc. We laughed all day and sold TONS of pieces. His booth was by far the most popular out of all of the ones in my field of vision and I felt so honored to have the opportunity to be standing there with him.

If we didn't have a project due on Tuesday that I was freaking out about then I would definitely go back tomorrow and Saturday to help again. I can't even describe in words right now how much fun I had and the excitement I still feel from the day. I met and talked to so many different people - customers walking around the show and other artists. I got to see again and meet for the first time artists whose work I admire. Among those people were Thomas Mann, Dennis Nahabetian and Todd Reed (all of whom say "hi" Jan).

As soon as I figure out how to get pictures off of my Sprint account online I'll put some up of me and Don in action at the show! :)

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

setting up for the craft show

Here are some pics I took while helping Don set up for the craft show. They're not very exciting, but some of the ones of the interior of the Smithsonian are very pretty and some of the pics can maybe be helpful in visualizing what it looks like before the show starts.

Even though I was just setting up, I had a really good time with Don. He's so funny and laid back, and his work is absolutely gorgeous. The pictures I took really don't do his work any justice. In person, the colors in the glass he uses are so gorgeous and his forms and textures are so unique. I've never been a fan of glass jewelry until yesterday when I saw how amazing it can actually be when it's done by the right person.

If any of you don't have class on Friday or have free time on Saturday I would definitely suggest coming out to see all of the beautiful art that is going to be there.

Here's what I copied and pasted from smithsoniancraftshow.org:Thursday: 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Friday: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Saturday: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Sunday: 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Daily Admission $15
Seniors, Students, Military, and Smithsonian Associates $12

Daily Booth Chats
Talk with artists - Learn how they work.

Welcome to the 26th Annual Smithsonian Craft Show.

The nation's most prestigious juried exhibition and sale of contemporary American craft takes place from April 10 through April 13, 2008. Come to the historic National Building Museum in Washington, DC to discover delightful, one-of-a-kind and limited edition craft objects in 12 different media: basketry, ceramics, decorative fiber, furniture, glass, jewelry, leather, metal, mixed media, paper, wearable art and wood.

The 120 exhibitors in this year's show include emerging artists and master craftsmen, 39 of whom are first-time participants. Twelve of those selected were also first-time applicants to the show. Three of the exhibitors were accepted in two categories. All were chosen by a panel of expert jurors from a highly competitive field of close to 1,400 applicants.

pretty fountain in the center

huge, beautiful columns

random people setting up (all of their booths were black and boring - Don had beautiful burnt orange silk drapery)

Don's area before we set up

frame and curtains up

display cases put together

Some of Don's work

Monday, April 7, 2008

Cool new book

While I was looking for the Creative Caffeine book I found another cool book called 1000 Extra/Ordinary Objects. It's a funky little book with all kinds of weird and crazy objects and products.

One of my favorites is the edible potato starch plate, also known as the Biopic plate. I don't like it so much because you can eat it (it says they taste pretty yucky anyway), but because it can be used as compost decomposing in only 2 days, whereas styrofoam plates can take around 500 years to decompose!

Craft Show Jitters...

So I'm helping an artist by the name of Don Friedlich at the Smithsonian Craft Show tomorrow (setting up) and then working the show for him at his booth Thursday and Friday. I've never done anything like this before and I'm getting nervous! Very excited, but nervous. If anyone has ever been to this show and wants to share about it or has any advice or pointers to share that would be awesome! Thanks ya'll.

Most of Don's work is done in glass and gold. Here are some of my favorites that I found on his website -

Organic Series Brooch - one of his earlier pieces of work

Magnification Series Brooch

Translucence Series Brooch