By Hand Made

img_6161Brooklyn Artisan slipped out of the borough last weekend to attend the massive NY Now wholesale market held at Javits. Our mission: to locate designs and artisans that exemplified the best in handmade creativity. Result: a selection of beautiful products with a Brooklyn origin.

Above, a Brooklyn-themed card hand-printed by letterpress in the Bushwick studio of Lovewild Design. Lovewild characterizes itself as “family-owned, women-run” and has developed a range of handmade products that are highly sustainable. The greeting cards encourage reuse—seeds are embedded in the paper and will actually germinate into tiny wildflower patches when planted in soil. The cards provide charming and sometimes pointed sentiments—a favorite is “I’m so relieved you found someone to marry you. Really.” Lovewild founder Sierra Zamarripa insists that was what her grandmother actually said to her. It could qualify as Most New York Congratulations ever.

fullsizerender-12Wilcoxson Brooklyn Ceramics displayed a wide range of bold, modern tableware in elegant forms and colors created in its Greenpoint studio. The style of ceramic is characterized by designer Kevin Wilcoxson as “New Modern,” a derivation of a traditional Japanese Mingei style and highly valued in museum gift shops. Another interesting activity of the studio is the schedule of workshops where participants get hands-on experience in the craft. Other craftspersons might want to consider how to incorporate similar real-world interactions into their businesses.

fullsizerender-7Jewelry definitely appears to be a growth industry in Brooklyn (viz. our piece from October). Swooping curls of sterling silver and gold are the creative product of designer Lucia Perluck, shown above in the Emerging Makers area at NY Now. Her minimalist designs under the label Lucia Pearl are available IRL in Crown Heights at Marché Rue Dix and online at Etsy. Especially notable is her collaboration with a Moroccan master engraver: Maalem and Maalema.

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Williamsburg-based designer Tracey Tanner showed an impressive array of leather products—wallets, clutches, pouches—in an astonishing variety of leather finishes. (And here I was thinking leather essentially came in brown and black. Anyone for sparkling magenta?)

As a footnote, all the designers featured in this piece in all their diversity work within a one mile radius in the Williamsburg/Greenpoint/Bushwick nexus. It is becoming difficult to grasp the volume of creative energy across the whole of Brooklyn.

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Visiting Maker Faire 2016

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Emiko Shinozaki showing her elegant, chemistry-inspired jewelry at this year’s World Maker Faire 2016 (October 1 and 2 at the New York Hall of Science grounds in Flushing). Shinozaki, seen here wearing one of her signature pieces, lives in Carroll Gardens and works in her Dumbo studio (yes, artists still work in Dumbo). Trained in classical music, she chose jewelry design over medical school, yet keeps a link to her roots by often incorporating imagery that references organic chemistry, “especially caffeine.”

Kickstarting Brooklyn: Political Horror

As if this election season weren’t scary enough, arts group Creative Time and artist Pedro Reyes are proposing to turn the Brooklyn Army Terminal into a political haunted house. Reyes wants to fill that amazing space with the “horrors of our political landscape.”

Creative Time is the .org that two years ago commandeered the defunct Domino Sugar plant in Williamsburg for Kara Walker’s A Subtletythe spectacularly successful art installation that drew “yuge” crowds. At press time, the haunted house project was tantalizingly close to its funding goal. Donating now will ensure an October surprise. (Or like us,  you can just stay curled up in a fetal position under the blankets until election day.)

Kickstarting Brooklyn: Hyperachievers

A Scott Terpin donut. His website has many, many more. Yum.

IN THE SINGULAR ECOSYSTEM that is Kickstarter, one will encounter many evolutionary dead ends—projects, visions and dreams that wither away unfunded. Then there are the mysterious campaigns that don’t just meet their targets, they blow by them and reach double, triple or stratospherically higher funding results. Why and how do these hyperachievers succeed, and can we learn any lessons by studying their success?

Here’s one that caught our eye at Brooklyn Artisan. Scott Teplin was creating his massive, quirky and highly detailed drawing called Big Canal and asked Kickstarter support for a hefty $4,500 to complete it. On the face of it, Scott is like many an artist—with a pen, a brush and a dream. But by the end of the campaign, his project was overfunded 11 times, garnering more than $49,000, which is a goodly chunk of the annual salary for a Brooklyn artist.

Big Canal, by Scott Terpin, a very successful Kickstarter project

Big Canal is one of those drawings with lots of quirky details that demand hours to explore—Where’s Waldo? without the people, Richard Scarry without the cute animals. What is the secret of its funding phenomenon? The campaign video stars Scott and, though mildly amusing, won’t win a Palme d’or. Maybe it’s the many photos on his Kickstarter page that engage the viewer in the overall process. Or it could be his suggestive marketing that positions the reward as a great poster for a kid’s room. Or maybe it just appealed to the random whim or previously undetected want of the Kickstarter audience.

One thing is certain: The man can sure draw donuts.

Kickstarting Brooklyn: Candles in a New Mold

Lace: an elegant example of Andrej Ulem’s architectural candles

ANDREJ UREM IS BUILDING CANDLES THAT ARE DEFINITELY IN A NEW MOLD. Straying far from the traditional cylinder shape, they explore form and texture in intriguing directions—creating what the artist terms “livable art pieces.” His Kickstarter campaign seeks funds for a 3-D printer that will enable him to create more precise and complex molds for future designs. Backers are rewarded with their choice from his current line of candles.

Kickstarting Brooklyn

Sogoal Zaghardi produces gorgeous, artful and sometimes irreverent cookies and is seeking to expand her Sogi's Bakeshop with the help of a Kickstarter campaign.

Just one of the many Brooklyn projects raising funds on Kickstarter:
Sogoal Zolghadri produces artful and sometimes irreverent cookies
at her Sogi’s Honey Bakeshop.

THE MOST RECENT CREDIT CRUNCH began in 2008 and  reportedly ended this summer. Remember those images of Lehman Brothers staff tossed to the sidewalk with their little boxes of belongings? In the months following, credit dried up and small businesses were starved for the financing needed for growth and hiring, laying the basis for a long grueling recession. But also within those same months—in April 2009—a small startup launched in Manhattan that has become the go-to funder for creative projects: Kickstarter was born. In the four years since its founding, Kickstarter has gone viral and raised pledges of more than $870 million in crowd-sourced funds from more than 5 million backers. (Like any good Internet company, it posts its stats online.)

The premise of Kickstarter is that entrepreneurs, artists, designers, musicians or filmmakers with ideas bigger than their bank accounts can launch a campaign on the Kickstarter site, set funding goals (which can grow over time) and deadlines, provide incentives to investors for various funding levels, and generally plead their case to gain followers (think Facebook “likes” with dollar bills attached). The ideas flourish or languish, gaining financing or not in a mysterious financial Darwinism. Some projects blow past their target budgets by tens of thousands of dollars, while others fizzle out despite their merit.

Given the power of Kickstarter for small creative inventors, makers and producers, Brooklyn Artisan will be covering it as a financial and manufacturing beat, highlighting the notable, successful, hopeful, and even the occasional noble-yet-doomed project. As well, we will provide advice, tips, strategies and tactics to aid in successful campaigns.

Brooklyn is certainly well represented, with more than 2,000 projects currently raising funds, more than double the number of projects coming out of London, for example. To look for promising projects or to make sure your investments stay in borough, Kickstarter provides city-based discovery.

The Brooklyn Brief commuter bag by Owen & Fred of Greenpoint comes with a handy inspirational
quote screen-printed on the inside.

Today, we’re highlighting two projects. The first, by Greenpoint-based Owen & Fred, is a series of bags (above) that is tantalizingly near to reaching the $45,000 campaign goal. The bags are promised to be durable, sustainable, meticulously detailed and U.S. made. One nice touch is the inspirational quotes screen-printed on the inside, for your eyes only.

Sogi’s Honey Bakeshop (picture at top of post) set less ambitious goals: raise $6,500 to buy supplies and a bigger mixer to aid the creation of the hand-painted cookies that have already attracted the attention of Martha Stewart Weddings and are popular on Etsy. Happily, baker Sogoal Zolghadri has raised the money and then some.

It can be a lot of work and planning to produce a campaign that meets or surpasses its goal. Kickstarter itself provides some basic tools and information to get you started. But who knows—next time there is a big shakeup in the financial world, those staffers might be seen shlepping their belongings in one of your Brooklyn-produced duffel bags.

The Factory Floor: Meet Makers This Weekend

FURNITURE TAKES THE STAGE at The Factory Floor in Industry City in Sunset Park. The ground-floor venue is a former industrial space newly converted to showcase local design work. Sponsored by Industry City, the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce, The Pratt Center for Community Development and the Brooklyn Navy Yard, The Factory Floor is presenting primarily Brooklyn furniture makers, designers and builders. Last weekend’s show coincided with the Sunday opening of the Coming Together: Surviving Sandy art exhibit in the adjacent building. If you are interested in the art and craft of design, this is the weekend to make it out to 241 37th Street, Sunset Park, Saturday and Sunday, 10am to 6pm. Bring the kids, Construction Kids has set aside an area where they can build their own objets d’art.

Here are a few highlights from Brooklyn Artisan’s visit:

Annie Evelyn at New Colony Furniture takes hard materials and makes soft seats. Really.

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Diverse objects, from seats and shelves to vases and trivets at Souda’s space.

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Funny and quirky pillow commentary from Alexandra Ferguson.

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Beautiful maple stools and a passel of refrigerator magnets made from the leftover bits by Bower.

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