Sunday, September 27, 2009

re-IMAGINE!






Adrienne was born in the year of the monkey. The fact that she is clever, inventive, skillful, and truly original is maybe down to a well placed birth date? (ok -plus immense talent, work, and experience)!

All lovers of fine and beautiful things owe a debt to whatever cosmos aligned to bring her forth! She truly embodies ALL that is the darkest hue of Green. Her work is made from ALL recycled and found objects, fabrics, and castaways. She gives old sweaters, wire hangers, notions, and men's shirts a rebirth. She lives and breathes all the kind of alchemy that yield the most magical art pieces I have seen in awhile. I first was introduced to her clothing which extended the life of kid's favorite numbers and created new inspired fanciful frocks. Then I saw her toys (clutching heart)... The magical robots. Amazing. What inspires me most is her ability to create something out of whatever comes her way. A real frugalist and sorceress for our times. She will even stuff an object using remaining fluff and dust bunnies from her studio floor. NOTHING goes to waste. She has an incredible eye for detail and sometimes labors for 15 hours to make one small piece. I visited her Bed Stuy studio, reGenerations to share with eco-bling readers the beautiful person(a) behind these joyful works of art. I went for the felted mermaids and stayed for the sweet pecans and brie! Maybe next blog she'll share some recipes too.






EB If you could paint the sky what color would it be?

rG blue. you know; if it ain't broke...

I do love fireworks, though. And skywriting is kind of fun. I wonder what it costs to advertise that way...do you think there are bio-diesel options? Can they send tremendous clouds of nag champa into the stratosphere that spell 'buy reGENERATIONs' ?

EB How did you get started?

rG Have i started something? sorry, Elissa. I will put on my 'serious' face. you know my lovely twins...when they were around 18 months, we had this hand-me-down sweater Amzi wore ALL the time until she got too long for it; you know how they just keep getting longer, but not wider.

Anyway, a thousand years ago my mom taught me how to crochet to help me get over my very first broken heart. It worked, and I fell in love with crochet. So when Amzi grew too long for the sleeves of this sweater, I extended them by adding crochet cuffs.

The fairy boat mobiles and marionettes I'm making now are a far cry from that first sweater, but that's the nature of art, I think. The nature of creation. It evolves, and that's really what the name (reGENERATIONs) is all about. My mom passing her art down to me, my dad's shirt becomes a fairy skirt for his grandaughter, or a dragon fairy boat for someone else's son. The shape of a thing changes although it's dna is always there.

And my kids get to be surrounded by these magical things, their imagination soar while they watch me work, and they are learning about conservation without being hit over the head with the idea. Do you know their favorite place to shop is goodwill? I love that.

EB What encouraged you to become a full fledged business?

rG I love doing this. I feel most myself and most at peace when I'm creating my art. in a crazy world which seems to be getting more surreal by the second, the only thing that makes sense to me is that I focus on what helps me to feel really alive.

EB What is the best (or most bizarre) compliment you have ever received about your work?

rG my sister calls me Willy Wonka. Which is the best compliment in the sense of his being this wonderful magician and creator of his own universe. It's also bizarre because i don't wear a purple crushed velvet top hat.

EB What do you need to happen to feel that your business is really soaring?

rG I need to be able to afford my children's tuition, or to live somewhere with good public schools, and to take a vacation every once in a while. Is this an appropriate time to mention health insurance?

EB Do you still work a "9-5"?

rG No. I worked for 19 years in the fashion industry. After seven years at my last job, we were all laid off. On a Tuesday at 1 in the afternoon. No heads-up, no farewell lunch, and no severance package. We were all technically freelance, so they could get away with it.

I hope that doesn't sound bitter, because I'm actually not. I think this sort of behavior in business is insane, but if my employers had been more reasonable about it, more human, I may have been aggressive about finding another 9-5, and then I wouldn't be working so intently on what I believe I was born to do.

I'm an artist. there... I said it. But I would accept another 9-5 if it were a great job and allowed me to continue doing this work.

EB What are your plans for reGENERATIONs?

rG you know what they say; we make plans, and god laughs. I'm SO tired of being laughed at.

There are a couple pieces that have developed that I love, and they could be those perfect items that really take off. My heart is not in mass production, and the factories I have worked with want bolts of fabric and uniformity, which is also not what I do.

Though I've been thinking that so many fantastically skilled people are unemployed after years working in garment district. It would be great if someone created a few sewing cooperatives.

They could make my one great piece, and then it becomes this symbol for living wages and community and employing/buying/selling locally; green business. We take it on the road and plant a sewing cooperative seed in every post-industrial town in the U.S., and Oprah loves it and we all live happily ever after.

It could work.

EB Do you have a background in fashion? textiles? self taught?

rG yes. yes. yes.

Also the time I have spent 'crafting' with the other parents at my children's school has been priceless. absolutely. I have learned so much about wool, felting, finding the balance(!) for a mobile, as well as how important it is to laugh and cry and share while I work.

EB Tell me about your process.

rG that's a tough one. I wake up and check out what's floating through my head or on the computer.

Last Saturday I saw Max, who you know just lost two teeth. I was thinking about her yesterday, and then this image popped into my head; one of my little birds carrying a bag for a tooth. you know, for the tooth fairy. So I made one when I woke up this morning.

Is that what you mean by 'process'?

EB - Yup! - Tell me about your line.

rG I'm really focusing on play and imagination. Perhaps 'focus' is not the right word; more like I'm playing and imagining. It's fun and silly and whimsical work. And of course, it's all made from second-hand materials; mostly men's shirts and wool sweaters which I boil until they are felted.

My understanding is that wet-felting is the oldest form of textile. I love that. This direct line extending back to our most ancient ancestors, and I'm turning it into jeweled pirate eye patches and handing them to my children. yum!

Right now I'm working on dragon and swan boat mobiles, some small birds, and custom name banners; those are all on the decor end of things. I have fairy skirts, knight's coifs, aviator caps and goggles, feathered headbands, and military vests for dress up. Although my kids wear those things to school. Often.

My very favorite pieces at the moment are the marionettes. Talk about love! I actually giggle as I see them come to life. I also love the neck ruffs, they're much more practical (ha!) than most of my work, and they fit little people as well as grown folk.

EB Any interest from distributors or retailers that you can talk about?

rG I can say that I received an email today from the lovely Acorn Toy Shop on Atlantic Avenue here in Brooklyn. The phrase that comes to mind is 'I definitely want the boats'. They should be there in time for holiday shopping.

And I have an appointment next week with the baby buyer (that sounds weird) for a swanky Japanese Department Store on Fifth Avenue. You can do the math.

EB How long (on average) does it take to make a piece say, for example, the fairy boats?

rG The boats take me 5 or 6 hours to make. I can save a little time by making a few at a time, but not much, because they are still one-of-a-kind, and it's a lot of hand-work.

EB What records/books would you take on a deserted island?

rG What a segue! David Bowie's live Ziggy Stardust album. Everything I could carry by Manu Chao, Susana Baca, Led Zepplin, Chuchumbe, Virginia Rodriguez, and Cyndi Lauper. Right now I'm listening to Sugar by Ddib and I can't imagine having to live without this song. At least I would want to have the chorus lyrics tattooed on me somewhere.

In terms of books; Song for Night. Absolutely. And an extra copy just in case the tide takes one away...Magic of the Ordinary, The Bible, Coming Through Slaughter, Red Earth and Pouring Rain, the Baron in the Trees, Angry Black White Boy, the God of Small Things, Life of Pi, Confederacy of Dunces, The Little Prince, The Bone People...exactly how large a vessel is carrying me to this island anyway?

EB How do you balance work and twins?

rG easy. I've strung each of them onto either end of a rod made from recycled newspapers; one-of-a-kind mobile and work/twins balanced. viola!

EB What constitutes a "good day" ?

rG I haven't raised my voice. My kids have played outside somewhere with some friends, and I've made something beautiful. We've all laughed, ALL gotten a bath, eaten something delicious, and my kids have told me I'm sweet.

EB What do your kids think of your line? Being an entrepreneur?

rG I suppose they love what I do, because every single time I make something new they ask me who it's for and why they can't have it. I don't know that they're quite as pleased with the entrepreneur part. The boundaries between family time and work were much more clear when I was working 9-5. I think that's a lot easier for 5-year-olds.

EB Other than your own what toys/textile lines inspire you?

rG I love petit pan and paper wings. Both are beyond gorgeous. If you don't already know their work, please look at them, look at their websites, and sigh from the beauty.

EB What famous person would you want to have dinner with dead or alive?

rG Wait... I have to choose whether I'm dead or alive?

hmm. I'd love to have dinner with Julie Taymor, Manu Chao, Arundati Roy, Van Jones, Louis Kahn, Jean-Pierre Jeunet, Charlie Chaplin, or Steppin Fetchit. Their work has brought me to tears.

EB What would be the ideal city for you, reGENERATIONs, and your family?

rG I love Brooklyn. This is the very first time I have felt really at home in New York, and it has most of what I want in a home town. But is becoming pretty hard for working folk to 'maintain' around these parts.

Sometimes I imagine a school bus converted to be a home, studio, as well as a retail/classroom venue. I'd love if we could park in a city/town with a mild climate and a public Waldorf school during fall and winter months, then to be on the road during summer/art fair months. Our west coast would be our best bet, though I'd love to be on the east coast of Mexico. Vera Cruz would be nice.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

BLACK AND GREEN

William Kamkwamba makes it plain. There was a need and he filled it. This young scientist is a reminder of the ability in all of us to do some small (or not so small) act to make this a better place. As he says - TRUST YOURSELF!

Monday, August 10, 2009

YOU'RE A WINNAH







We love AllModern.com. Not only do they have LOVELY goodies for your home they have many lovely ECO-FRIENDLY goodies for your home. If you enter this contest you can get a lovely, eco-friendly, FREE goody for your home! AllModern.com has a fantastic selection of modern furniture and home accessories from many leading designers. Part of CSN Stores, All Modern is just one of over 260 retail sites that offer a diverse array of products from Herman Miller’s popular Aeron Chair to cookware by Rachael Ray.
You can choose from any of the pretty pictures above and it's yours! Thank you AllModern.com!

HERE IS HOW YOU WIN
:

Please share your ideas, funny stories, or latest news about making life better for freelancers and folks that work at home. The Greener the better. Anything will do; software, exercises, insurance, recipes?! Just post it in the Comments below.

The contest will remain open till next Tuesday August 18th at 12:00pm and we will randomly choose a winner from the comments,(using random.com) so get to it and good luck!

*Please note that this giveaway is only for residents of the United States.

Monday, August 3, 2009

HOMEWORK



The idea of leisurely working in fuzzy slippers is probably only real to those that don't actually do it. It is often hectic and even busier than working it the rat race from which you intended to escape. And those of us that do it also know of the evil that lurks in the procrastination opportunities that abound when you are working in your own digs. Occasionally, even the most reclusive of us, need a change of scenery when working from home. Those serious social butterflies may even crave creative exchange, brainstorming, and like minded activity. Go figure. Well in the latest installment of creative "co-working", Lab 24/7 has birthed their version in beautiful Bed Stuy. They not only offer a great space to work and exchange ideas with other Creatives, they provide productive welcomed distractions such as Yoga! I don't need to mention why this is a wonderfully Green option, no gas, shared utilities, less need for fancy clothes (hence zero dry cleaning), and it does wonders in creating a real "walkable community". Also check out Lab 24/7's other great events such as their Hotter than July event on August 9th. I may actually shower and slide on over myself...after I rearrange my spice rack of course.

To read about more co-working and other alternative working synergies in your town Click Here

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

'Til the Street Lights Come On





That was my official "curfew" as a kid. It was a fail safe universal control mechanism for many urban mothers world round. As the summer break gets into full swing I, like many parents, am scrambling to organize camps, extend school, find getaways, and plan ways to keep the little ones "engaged". This is also a time that my contemporaries think back nostalgically to their own childhood. Apparently, a simpler one. Occupied more with double dutch ropes fashioned from clothes lines and skelly bottle tops made with wax than computers and handhelds (unless you were lucky enough to have pong. We were natural "frugalists" - We recycled : A stick ...poof...became a sword, a phone cord...poof...instant jump rope. All we had was each other, and good sense of mischief (and a lot of un-rung doorbells). We could go hours without even eating or drinking so as not to miss the next adventure . Talk about reducing our footprint and waste!


cue Can it be that it was all so simple then?. (the Wu Tang version please)


Ask yourselves this summer: Do kids really need to watch a full length film in the backseat of a car!? How will they ever learn how many chapters of any given Beverly Cleary book or MAD magazine they can get through without puking? This sort of thing has to be learned on the job.


We only have ourselves to blame. All of this talk reminded me of how seldom we require our kids "engage" themselves. Have we provided them with too many "instruments of play?" Too many things to do and have? Are we robbing them of that benign neglect with which our parents showered us? We modern parents pride ourselves on providing our kids with the finest vestiges of our "better youth" slinky toys, gyroscopes, and viewmaster reels. Maybe instead we should just call off some "play dates" at "play spaces" and throw the tykes out on the stoop armed only with their imaginations (oh - and 35 cents for an egg cream or bomb pop)

happy summer!





photo (c) Martha Cooper

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

RAIN RAIN





It has been raining in NY for a full week now. Straight through Earth Day. In response to our making something new out of something old 30 day challenge leading up to Earth Day we received some amazing project ideas. One of our favorites was re-using old magazines to make jewelry. We recently used it for a workshop at the annual SolaGreen event at Brownstone Books. We call them IxeBeads after the resourceful doll/child genius that sent us the idea! THANKS OLA and IXE!

Saturday, March 21, 2009

SOMETHING OLD SOMETHING NEW



Repurposed scrap wood and hangers I created - It's called "Ang On (www.esthergrace.com)

I need challenges. Parameters. Deadlines, if you will, in order to get things done. Even fun things that I really WANT to do.

So - I want to issue a challenge to you as a way to have fun but also as a way to get my own butt in gear .

So here it is:

Can you make something new out of something old EVERYDAY until Earth Day? I am gonna do this challenge with my daughter. So parents this can double as a "scram -kid" activity too. Basically re-purpose something using your own creative talents, artwork, and ingenuity. It doesn't have to be anything complicated; An old newspaper into colorful wrapping paper, popsicle stick into a little puppet, old bills into a sketch book. Whatever floats your boat. The goal is just to make something new each day.

Have fun and please share!

Friday, March 20, 2009

SPRUNG!





Its mind over matter. SPRING is here. I know it. I saw a crocus today (through the snow here in Brooklyn). At least the flowers know its Spring.

I, like so many, love Spring. Growing up it signalled my impending April birthday (My parents almost named me Earthly delight - the 60's were good to them). In adult life it is the delicious green carpet that welcomes me out of another heinous winter! Its when you see folks out that you missed the last 5 months. You get to go to festivals, water, cherry blossoms and the like. It is a time of renewal, reproduction and celebration of Mother Earth. What is not to love!?

What's so "eco" about that? Well it is just another confirmation that people of color and many citizens of the world in general recognize this as a time to celebrate our Earth and give a big resounding thank you for what she gives us. Brown folks have always known how to do it up right for the Mother. Many of the celebrations still remain the same now as they did in ancient times. The 3000 year old holiday Nowruz (spelled many ways) is the traditional Persian festival of spring which starts at the exact moment of the vernal equinox, commencing the start of the spring and new beginnings. The name comes from Avestan meaning "new day/daylight". It is deeply rooted in the rituals and traditions of the Zoroastrian religion. Today the festival of Noruz is celebrated in Iran, Iraq, India, Afghanistan, and many other places.

Last week was the Hindu celebration Holi (or Pagwaha of you are in, say Trinidad or Guyana, or Suriname). a Traditional Holiday celebrating the radiance of the universe in spring, the season of love, and spiritual perseverance among other things. The most popular celebration includes throwing colored water and powder on friends. It is a beautiful site and expression of joy and unbridled revelry!

So whether you plant a garden, bird watch, spring clean, or paint eggs, Spring is a reminder of newness and rebirth. Pagan or religious it is a season that is inextricably bound to our planet. A reminder that the Earth is our responsibility and it is abundant (despite all of the messages of scarcity).

The first Step to conservation.


NY Water Celebration is this weekend - Hey, Mos Def and Marvin Gaye both thought it important (even before Al Gore fame) so maybe we should take a listen?

Saturday, February 28, 2009

FESTIVUS

During Christmas we spent a lot of time trying to help our 5 year old understand why consumption can be a problem. We spent hours explaining the whole "giving is better than receiving" bag on a kindergarten level. She generally buys it. During her time off from school we spend time together and trade old stuff for new (to us) stuff. The goal is to generally try to instill the concept of modest living and creative frugalism in our home. Hey, isn't that what JC himself woulda done? So this year we challenged ourselves to create something from a commonly trashed item in our neighborhood. Hence...our detergent bottle Christmas tree (see below). We spent a few weeks gathering bottles from local laundromats. It was fun to make and it looked (and smelled) great. As Easter approaches we have already had to fend off the grocery store bombardment of candy displays and other "holiday" accoutrement. Rather than throw the "we don't celebrate___" wet blanket on our kids, we want to help them create fun alternatives for themselves. Hear is to hoping.

We generally skip Easter and go straight to Earth Day. This year, thanks to peers and Duane Reade, our young one has taken notice and is not letting it slide. We are at a loss. So we thought it would be great to hear ideas for fun and frugal ways to celebrate Easter, Earth Day, First Day of Spring or whatever your family's next holiday may be. (Though I, for one, will not front on those yummy jellybeans) Please share!
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Tuesday, February 24, 2009

BAG IT

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Our partners in Fine set to a groovy score help us deal with those pesky plastic bags Two Trees will thank them

People Suck

The trees have eyes...


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Tuesday, February 10, 2009

LOVE AND HATE


THIS I LOVE

The "Fenced In" by UHURU a Brooklyn based design+ build furniture company. Their work is as beautiful as it is utilitarian. They hand make all of the items and use reclaimed or repurposed materials. Unique, green and awe inspiring work.

http://www.uhurudesign.com/work.php


THIS I LOVE ALSO

a convo between the original environomentalist, "Two Trees" , about the emotion with a bad rep



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RED BLACK AND GREEN - Why Black People Hate Environmentalists

I recently gave a lecture called Black and Green. One of the areas I tried to examine was what the barriers to sustainable lifestyles may be for Black people and the public idea of environmentalism. In my humble opinion there are many, but a few stick out for me :

Expense - Whole Foods is a tad outside of most people's budget. Shame because those one bite brownies are a right not a privilege.

The Dominant Voice - Al Gore, Leonardo Dicaprio and others ...lovely people I am sure ...not a lot of credibility in Bed Stuy

Prescriptive - No one wants more crap to do.

Perception -Early on seemed like a lot of hairy underarmed tree huggers..the modern environmental movement seems like celebrity and tragically hip urbanites. Majora Carter needs more urban exposure...maybe an interview in Black Hair magazine guest appearance on Flavor of Love? Whatever it takes man.

Political - No one is legislating in the Black community for better access to Solar panels and maybe they shouldn't. I am sure a conversation about the asthma rates due to pollution, land fills in the hood, and Green collar jobs may resonate though!

Cultural Disconnect - Sorry Polar Bears are not our priority.

So on a more positive note. Let's talk about the things we ALREADY DO. Environmentalist like to beat up on the rest of us. The lovely Rhea Combs Brown gives us urban dwellers a pat on the back. We are actually doing things everyday and becoming more Green by the minute.


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Monday, February 9, 2009

AT THE VERY BEGININNG ..A VERY GOOD PLACE TO START

Julie Andrews never said it better. I am a procrastifarian. So after two years of this blog living in my head I am finally sharing it with anyone who will listen. The concept is simple...Fun info and conversations about fabulously frugal design and lifestyle stuff for us! On one hand I am constantly shocked and amazed at the resistance among my people to all things "Green". But on the other hand I understand that The Green movement has been somewhat co-opted and suffers from a PR problem. I am amazed because despite the angle of the trendy conversation, we are pioneers in this world of sustainable living. I think we just have to remind ourselves. I hope this blog will do that. For me being Green should be fun, and pretty. It shouldn't feel like a dictate or deprivation. Let's re-define this movement for ourselves.

Here is a teaser from many years ago, a conversation among four friends about "the problem" and how to engage our community in all things eco...


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