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.

Walt’s Words: “Election Day, November, 1884”

The Cyclone, Coney IslandAs Ample Hills Creamery oft reminds us, Walt Whitman wrote admiringly about our Kings County homeland. The words below, however, are Whitman speaking of the country as a whole and what makes “America’s choosing day” so quintessentially American: “the swordless conflict” to be resolved at the ballot box. 

If I should need to name, O Western World, your powerfulest scene and show,
‘Twould not be you, Niagara—nor you, ye limitless prairies—nor your huge rifts of canyons, Colorado,
Nor you, Yosemite—nor Yellowstone, with all its spasmic geyser-loops ascending to the skies, appearing and disappearing,
Nor Oregon’s white cones—nor Huron’s belt of mighty lakes—nor Mississippi’s stream:
—This seething hemisphere’s humanity, as now, I’d name—the still small voice vibrating—America’s choosing day,
(The heart of it not in the chosen—the act itself the main, the quadriennial choosing,)
The stretch of North and South arous’d—sea-board and inland—Texas to Maine—the Prairie States—Vermont, Virginia, California,
The final ballot-shower from East to West—the paradox and conflict,
The countless snow-flakes falling—(a swordless conflict,
Yet more than all Rome’s wars of old, or modern Napoleon’s) the peaceful choice of all,
Or good or ill humanity—welcoming the darker odds, the dross:
—Foams and ferments the wine? it serves to purify—while the heart pants, life glows:
These stormy gusts and winds waft precious ships,
Swell’d Washington’s, Jefferson’s, Lincoln’s sails.

 

A small footnote: 1884 is the year that Coney Island started building its roller coasters, a perhaps-too-perfect political symbol. 

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.

Chalk It Up: A Union Hall That Invites You In

You might think that Union Hall is where labor union members turn out for job calls. But not here. This Union Hall is on Union Street, as in "Union vs. Confederacy," and as the billiards suggest, it's a place you're invited to hang out. (Brooklyn Artisan photo pool)

You might think that Union Hall is where labor turns out
for job calls or votes. But not here. This Union Hall is on Union Street,
as in “Union vs. Confederacy,” and as the colliding bocce suggest,
it’s a tavern that invites you to hang out. (Photograph by Brooklyn Artisan Photo Pool)

CHALKBOARDS ARE A TIME-HONORED PRACTICE IN THE FOOD BIZ. Think of bistro menus propped on bentwood chairs in Paris, think of kosher deli listings on overhead blackboards while everyone’s shouting out orders, think of chalkboard easels outside restaurants along the streets and avenues of Brooklyn. Chalkboards can be as quick ‘n’ easy or as glamorous as the establishment requires. (Starbucks, for instance.)

Union Hall handshake logoAfter all, unlike print on paper, all you need to change an entrée (or adjust the prix fixe) is a moist bar cloth, and presto! The slate is as erasable as an iPad. The original tabula rasa. A little inspiration, a little colored craie (French talc stick), and the board becomes an invitation to express yourself or your business’s image. To quote your favorite philosopher or reference your favorite comics. To DIY or yield to your betters. In general the medium is fluid rather than stiff, friendly rather than formal; compare the above with the same Union Hall‘s logo at right.

From time to time over the next few weeks, Brooklyn Artisan will be sharing what we’ve seen through our lenses, with comments or not – mostly just letting the chalkistas speak for themselves.

Joy’s Best of Brooklyn for October 19, 20, 21

Walking tours that help you work off the eating

Friday: Launch party for Widow Jane Whiskey, a single barrel bourbon. Cocktails, BBQ, Live Bluegrass music, whiskey distillation and white lightning from the still. At Cacao Prieto Distillery & Chocolate Factory, Red Hook. 7pm-10pm.

Friday: Celebrate Cider Week NY with Cheese and Cider at BKLYN Larder. Demo by Eve’s Cidery plus cheese and cider pairings. Park Slope. 5pm-8pm.

Saturday & Sunday: Electronic Waste Recycling in Brooklyn, sponsored by the Lower East Side Ecology Center
Saturday: Flatbush Food Coop, Cortelyou Road, Flatbush. 10am-4pm.
• Sunday: PS29 at Baltic Street, Cobble Hill. 10am-4pm.

Painting by Frangiou Fotini,
BWAC, this weekend.

Saturday & Sunday: Last weekend for Brooklyn Waterfront Artists Coalition (BWAC) Affordable Art Auction. Red Hook. Silent auction until 4pm each day. Winners can take art home by 6pm.

Saturday: Events in Bed-Stuy:
Brownstoners of Bedford-Stuyvesant, Inc.
34th annual House Tour. Self-guided tour from 11am-4pm.
• Bed-Stuy Bazaar featuring merchandise from Fulton Arts Fair members. 10:30am-3:30pm.
BeSAA 9th Annual Studio Strut. Self-guided tour of local artists in their studios, homes, galleries and area businesses. 3pm-7pm

Saturday: Prospect Park Food Truck Rally. To date, 16 trucks including: Bongo Brothers, Cupcake Crew, Eddies Pizza, Green Pirate, Kimchi Taco Truck, Mexicue, Milk Truck, Nuchas, Phil’s Steaks, Red Hook Lobster, Rickshaw Truck, Schnitzel & Things, Souvlaki GR , Taïm Mobile, Wafels & Dinges. Sponsored by Prospect Park Alliance and the NYC Food Truck Association. Grand Army Plaza. 11am-5pm.

Brownstones in Bed-Stuy and mansions in Bay Ridge will be part of walking tours on Saturday. (Photo courtesy
of the Historic Districts Council.)

Saturday: Bay Ridge walking tour led by Victoria Hofmo, founder of the Bay Ridge Conservancy. The tour focuses on some of the neighborhood’s most pressing preservation priorities. 10am

Saturday: 2nd annual Tastes of Brooklyn. Top Brooklyn chefs partner with farmers and seeds in the middle of the Greenmarket at Borough Hall. 11:30am-3pm.

Sunday: 3rd annual Havemeyer Sugar Sweets Festival. All-donation bake sale and baking competition to raise funds for The City Reliquary museum and civic organization. Baking Smackdown schedule: The most decadent vegan, 11am. Best fall-flavored treat, 12pm. Best sweet slice, 1pm. Best booze-infused, 2pm. Best In Show, 3pm. Williamsburg, 10am-4pm.

Sunday: Pickling Canning Workshop, one of a series of classes in practicing the skills of sustainable living. Everyone who attends will get a jar of something to bring home. Brooklyn Society for Ethical Culture, Park Slope. 1pm-3pm.

At MAD: Basket. Jeremy Frey, 2011. (Image copyright
©2012 Ari Plosker, all rights reserved)

Sunday: 3rd annual MAC-OFF, a no-holds-barred competition to find the best version of the All-American classic macaroni and cheese. With complementary Ommegang BPA. Huckleberrybar, Williamsburg. 5pm-8pm.

Sunday in Outer Brooklyn: Closing day for Changing Hands, Art Without Reservation 3. Contemporary Native North American Art from the Northeast and Southeast. Museum of Art and Design. “MAD” explores the blur zone between art, design, and craft today. MAD’s history of honoring the relationship between materials and maker is evident in their architecturally-fascinating space at Columbus Circle. Manhattan. 11am-6pm.


Joy Makon curates Brooklyn Artisan’s Craft & Design coverage and creates the weekend to-do lists.
Send items for listings to brooklynartisan@joymakondesign.com

The Littlest Makers at Maker Faire

FOR A MOVEMENT THAT THE ECONOMIST magazine has declared may “herald a new industrial revolution,” there appears to be an inordinate amount of fun in the maker world, at least in the examples on view at the recent World Maker Faire 2012. Apart from the rolling cupcake-mobiles and the explosive “science” involving Diet Coke and Mentos, there were robots dancing Gangnam Style, a range of steampunk gadgetry and clothing, and a large number of—not to put too fine a point on it—toys.

Play appears to be a central value for makers, for many it may be a blast of fresh air from the spreadsheets and word processors of “adult” worklife. Get in your garage, create a robot or an autonomous helicopter, assemble a music machine that uses sunlight to generate music, put some flashing lights on your t-shirt that advertise your heartbeat. Why not?

Robot makers engineering the future at the booth of Brooklyn Robot Foundry.

In fact, of the many perspectives on fun at Maker Faire, the one from sub-four-feet was ever-intriguing, as thousands of children can attest. Brooklyn Robot Foundry was a substantial presence at Maker Faire, winning two Educator Awards, [Read more…]

The Makers Find Their Way to Brooklyn’s 3rd Ward

SOME PEOPLE ARE MAKERS, SOME ARE TAKERS: We’ve been hearing that a lot from the top of the Republican ticket this fall. But however you plan to vote, there’s no denying that the hive of activity that is 3rd Ward comes from the makers. It’s a school, it’s workshops, it’s a hangout space. The membership is diverse in age, ability, and skills, but they all come to the repurposed warehouse in Williamsburg to work, to learn, and usually to share. Brooklyn Artisan visited on a recent Sunday evening and the place was buzzing.

3rd Ward customer service specialist Erica Eudoxie

Customer service rep Erica Eudoxie has worked at 3rd Ward for 18 months and taken 13 courses. Her long-term interest is jewelry making.

The only takers, if you can call them that, are the folks taking the classes that range from an intense one-day session up to courses that run over eight weeks. You can take Embroidery 2.0, or choose one of 20 offered in Fashion, or 8 in Welding & Fabrication, or 20 in Woodworking, or 10 in Web Design, or 16 in Drawing, Painting & Illustration.

One category is called simply Bike = Love. offering Basic Bike Mechanics, Intermediate Bike Mechanics, and Badass Bike Lights. (“With the right components, you can build your very own bike light which outshines all the others. In this class, you will make your very own hi-power LED bike-light which runs off a 9v battery.”)

For 3rd Ward members, the pricing structure is an incentive to commit to the community for the long term. (Basic membership, $99 for a year; co-working, $149 a month, or $119 at the annual rate – for the longer stay, you get a lower rate).  There are work stations as simple as library carrels, shared computer stations well equipped with big-screen Macs, conference areas, and even dedicated office spaces for micro businesses. My favorite presently on-site is Susty Parties, which sells colorful party goods made from sustainable materials, of course. (You can see why the business owners might like having this frou-frou stuff  Out. Of. The. House. Please!)

Like wallflowers at the eighth-grade dance, dress dummies huddle against the wall between classes. The sewing room serves some other purposes, too.

The  wood and metal makers’ professional spaces have recently been separated from the student spaces. To work in either area, you must pay the Pro rates ($599 a month, or $479 monthly at the annual rate) and demonstrate your skill level to a shop manager so that you are not a danger to the high-powered tools, to other workers or to yourself.

The metal shop includes a large work area with metal cutting and welding tools and shielded work stations. The even larger woodworking loft has materials-storage racks, table saw, lathe, drill press, mortising machine, an advanced dust-handling system, plus shop brooms and industrial size dustpans neatly stowed in plain sight. Separately vented yellow lockers stash potentially toxic and fume-producing wood finishing chemicals; a covered can that’s emptied every night takes care of oily rags.

Business training is available as well, both in structured classes and in informal, water-cooler consulting. Small-business bookkeeping. Using social media in marketing. Presentation skills for attracting investors.

Erica Eudoxie explains why she has taken so many courses herself: 13 and counting. “It’s not just the typical ADD skill set,” she says, laughing. “It’s the impulse to make something. I have it, and most people here do. It’s why they come.”

Have there been any big stars to brag about, any bold-face names who’ve passed through 3rd Ward on the way to success? “It depends on how you define success,” Erica says. “If it’s being able to quit your office job and make a living with your craft, then yes, definitely.

“And I’d say there are a lot here now who’re on the trajectory to success.”

 
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