Posted January 14, 2013
From time to time we like to highlight a product from our collection and today we're featuring the Leather Wedge Tote made by San Francisco-based Scabby Robot.
Scabby Robot founder Jill Harrell makes each bag by hand in her Potrero studio, employing traditional leathersmithing techniques. Crafted from a supple leather that is designed to age beautifully, this bag will quickly become a staple of your wardrobe. The Wedge Tote is available in three colors and two sizes.
Posted November 19, 2012
Jill Harrell is the creative force behind the Scabby Robot line of urban-chic leather goods. Recently we had the opportunity to visit her San Francisco studio to see the creative process in action.
Jill's line of handbags and leather accessories contrast the natural texture of leather with brilliant dye colors. The finished product has a "slouchy, yet architectural" form and is expected to age gracefully, becoming further tailored to its owner.
Her popular Wedge Tote Bag is an elegantly simple recipe of five parts leather and five parts hardware; cut and sewn, punched and hand-assembled. The finished product's form is subtle, yielding the spotlight to the warm texture of the leather.
Posted October 01, 2012
Photo credit: Tadd Myers
A few months back we wrote about Tadd Myers' Kickstarter campaign to fund the expansion of his American Craftsman Project. Since then the campaign has been fully funded, raising over $15,000 for his project. Myers has begun documenting a new crop of craftsmen on his way to publishing his work as a book.
As he works toward securing a publishing deal, Myers is updating his site with new photo essays, including the recently launched piece, The Grammy Man. Featuring John Billings of Billings Artworks, the photos document the process through which the Grammy statue is brought to life in Billings' Ridgway, Colorado shop. Each statue requires 15 man hours of labor to produce. Following the awards ceremony Billings' team engraves the winners' names before delivering the trophy.
In addition to the Grammy, the Billings Artworks team also produces the Annie, an award bestowed annually for achievement in the field of animation, and the John R. Wooden Award, which is presented to the top college basketball player. Previous recipients include Larry Bird, Michael Jordan and Tim Duncan.
Posted September 19, 2012
In the final installment of our photo tour of ceramic artist Hope Johnson's studio, we rejoin the process after the pieces have rested to cool following the bisque firing. The ceramic pieces are now solid, hardened and ready to receive paint.
Each piece is hand painted by Hope. Her designs are drawn from a collage of inspirations - Art Nouveau, Mid-Century Modern graphics, plant and wildlife photography. And like the clay itself, the design undergoes a transformation. She will photograph a flower in nearby Golden Gate Park, manipulate the image with graphic design software, combine the result with another sketch and scan the two images to create her stencil.
She ensures each piece is blemish free and that the clay achieved the desired shape.
For products that are sold in sets, Hope compares pieces to find the closest match.
Stencils are created for each plate size and are hand traced to find the ideal placement.
Just as each piece of pottery is unique, no two executions of the design are identical.
Paint is applied by hand in one sitting.
Once the piece is painted it is set down to dry overnight.
After drying, the piece is glazed and placed in the kiln for the final firing. The clay and glaze are heated to a temperature at which the clay is no longer porous and the glaze dries to a smooth, glass-like finish. After reaching the peak temperature the kiln cools down slowly and the pieces are allowed to dry for 24 hours.
The kiln is opened to reveal the results. Some two weeks after the clay was first rolled out, the work is complete.
To see more of Hope's work visit her entire collection.
Posted September 12, 2012
Today's article is the second in a series chronicling the creative process of ceramics artist Hope Johnson. In last week's part one we watched as Hope transformed a block of clay into the shape of a dish.
Working in her San Francisco studio, Hope handmolds each piece before firing in her own kiln.
Handmolded pieces require days of drying time. Plastic helps to control the air circulation ensuring an even drying rate which prevents cracking or chipping. At this stage the clay pieces are firm yet still malleable.
The clay receives a polish with a dampened cloth to smooth rough edges.
The interior of the dish is gently worked over to create the canvas for illustration.
To ensure that it will lay flat, the bottom of the plate is smoothed as well.
Using a simple wooden tool, the hand molding continues.
The plate's edges are worked to define its contour and shape.
The interior of the plate is sculpted to create an even transition across its surface.
After an additional drying period the molded pieces are ready to be bisque fired. As the first of two firings, the bisque heats the piece to an extreme degree, forcing all moisture from the clay. This initial firing allows the piece to be glazed later in the production process. Without it, the glaze would combine with residual water in the piece and launch a devolution back into mud.
Continue watching Hope's progress in the third part of this series.
Posted September 05, 2012
San Francisco ceramics artist Hope Johnson invited us into her Sunset studio for a tour recently.
Hope has been producing ceramic art for more than a decade. Her design aesthetics are heavily influenced by plant forms and organic shapes, and her experience in architecture is channeled through her application of mid-century modern colors and graphics.
All of Hope's ceramic pieces are produced by hand in her home studio. Her collection includes series of plates and dishes, equally suited for serving or display, and a line of ceramic pendant necklaces.
The photo essay below is the first in a series.
25-pound blocks of clay are first cut down to size.
The process is a manual, tactile experience. She begins by flattening a piece of clay in her hands.
The clay is run through a handturned press to produce a smooth surface.
To remove air bubbles and smooth over craters, the clay is again worked by hand.
Achieving a consistent texture at this stage will ensure the clay doesn't warp or chip.
A rolling pin is used to achieve an even depth.
The smoothed clay is ready to be cut.
Hope keeps a library of forms for the various plate shapes and sizes in her collection.
Using a form, the clay is handcut to produce the piece's shape.
The clay is worked by hand to produce the smooth edges and rounded shape of the dish.
Set down to dry, the first waiting period begins.
Continue watching Hope's process in the second part of this series.
Posted July 25, 2012
Photo credit: Flickr user Lynn Friedman
If you've ever been stuck in the long queue on First Street waiting to cross the Bay Bridge you may have noticed a two story wood clapboard building on Folsom, seemingly plucked from a different era. Built in 1912, Klockar's Blacksmith Shop has watched the South of Market region grow up over the last century, as machine shops and warehouses were replaced with glass and steel high rises.
Standing proud just a hammer's toss from the Bay Bridge, the shop played a key role in the construction of that same bridge. Dedicated San Francisco Landmark 149 in 2005, the shop bears a plaque that testifies its legacy:
Beginning in the 1860's, foundries south of Market Street fabricated mining machinery, railroad cars, and ships. This 1912 machine shop is the last. Fred V. Wilbert forged fine tools here. Edwin A. Klockars (1898 - 1994), a native of Munsmo, Finland, joined Wilbert in 1928. His precision-made tools helped construct the Emperor Norton and Golden Gate Bridges and hundreds of ships during World War II. Still in production is [sic] his 1939 jam tongs that enable canning companies to clear convulsed conveyor carriers. Ed Klockars had one motto: "Anything you need, we make." This shop still does.
Dedicated March 26, 6010 (2005)
Capitulus Redivivus Yerba Buena #1
Ancient and Honorable Order of E Clampus Vitus
Credo Quia Absurdum
As the neighborhood's industry changed from iron tools to ones and zeroes, Klockar's Blacksmith Shop endures, now owned and operated by 81-yeard-old Tony Rosellini, son-in-law to Edwin Klockars. With five decades of residency, Rosellini's roots are entrenched in the shop's original dirt floors.
Last weekend the San Francisco Chronicle profiled Rosellini and highlighted his status as the city's last blacksmith. It's pleasing to hear Rosellini reveal that passersby - residents and tourists alike - still display an interest in his craft.
The City Exposed: Klockars Blacksmithing from San Francisco Chronicle on Vimeo.
Posted June 26, 2012
Winner of the Grand Jury Prize for best documentary short at the 2012 Slamdance Film Festival, PROFESSIONal
is filmed on location in metal-fabricator Neil Youngberg's workshop in Salt Lake City. The beautifully photographed piece by Vita Brevis Films
captures the emotion and devotion behind Youngberg's craft and is part of a series exploring American craftsmen. Visit the Vita Brevis web site to enjoy more of their work.
Posted May 31, 2012
In the spirit of continuing to honor American veterans, we'd like to introduce you to furniture designer Stephen Kenn whose Inheritance Collection line of furniture utilizes repurposed military materials to create sleek furniture with mid-century modern styling. In deconstructing a piece of furniture by reducing it to its primary elements, he's able to show off the simplicity of construction but also underscore the craftsmanship of each piece. And in using WWII-era surplus canvas and cotton, he's connecting their stories to ours.
Posted May 29, 2012
As ubiquitous as Apple products have become, it's hard to take seriously the notion that consumers have come to appreciate good design. And that's thanks to the ridiculous iPhone and iPad cases out there. Whether it's rubberized phone shells that look more like pool toys or horrid faux-leather tablet folios, there's a taste gap out there.
I'm not one to suggest that there isn't a need for protection or room for self-expression. Quite the opposite. I will say that there's a reward waiting for you when you dig a little deeper than the Apple Store's accessories corner. And with the lifespan of tech products shrinking, it's worth offsetting that trend with a product that won't end up a landfill as soon as your two-year AT&T contract expires.
One brand to help you overcome those challenges is The Good Flock. Makers of handcrafted tech and travel accessories, they proudly advertise on their website that "The products we make can be buried in your backyard." Made in Portland, OR of sustainable, biodegradable materials such as Pendelton wool and vegetable-tanned leather, The Good Flock offers more than a dozen opportunities to protect your tech toys, the environment and your bank account.
Some stand-out pieces include the iWooly iPad sleeve in Army Green, pictured above. The Field Notes sleeve is a stylish nod to tradition. And for those worried about an inadvertent iPhone drop-kick, check out their sleeves below in Tan leather or Pecos Black wool.
Also recommended: The Good Flock's Instagram account, where you can glimpse some behind-the-scenes photos of the creative process.