Posted November 23, 2012
Photo credit: Fog + Foundry
Despite what big box retailers would have you believe, dropping our dessert forks to rush to the mall is hardly a Thanksgiving tradition. That's not to say that new shopping traditions can't crop up. With the help of American Express a three-year-old promotion is gaining steam - Small Business Saturday.
Even if you haven't seen any of the commercials tucked between the Black Friday sale ads, the concept is pretty simple. With big retail chains owning Black Friday and online giants claiming Cyber Monday, that leaves Saturday for us to stroll our neighborhoods and support small businesses.
Launched in 2010 to boost revenue (and credit card swipes) during the recession, American Express offers consumers a $25 rebate on purchases made this Saturday at a participating small business, and also helps turn out shoppers with a large promotional effort.
In a recent blog post we made the case for why shopping local is a powerful statement and how we can reproduce the benefits online when we focus on independent, American craftsmen.
If you aren't able to get out tomorrow to support small businesses in your community you can still make an impact - when you shop with Fog + Foundry you're helping American designers grow. To make it a little easier, we're offering free shipping on all orders placed by November 30th. Just enter the code EARLYBIRD to apply the discount.
Posted November 09, 2012
Photo credit: The Commonwealth Club
Since 1903 The Commonwealth Club of California has played host to a series of forums on political, cultural and economic issues. Avowedly non-partisan, the public affairs club has offered a platform to voices from across the political spectrum at its San Francisco headquarters and around the Bay Area.
Founded by the San Francisco Chronicle editorial writer Edward Adams, the club's inaugural roles included local and national heavyweights from Bank of America founder A.P. Giannini to winemaker Carlo Rossi to Herbert Hoover. The list of notable speakers runs to the thousands and historic moments include addresses such as President Roosevelt's New Deal speech and Vice President Quayle's Murphy Brown speech. Club events are open to the public and select forums are broadcast on more than 230 radio stations across the nation, with archived shows available through iTunes.
In a low signal/high noise era, the Club offers a thoughtful, directed discussion on important ideas. Last night, for example, the club hosted a forum on Bay Area manufacturing, featuring Rickshaw Bags, Make Magazine and Speakeasy Brewery. And when an event doesn't include complimentary beer tasting as last night's did, the also-historic House of Shields is just around the corner and makes for a perfect spot to continue the discussion among intimates.
If you're in the Bay Area consult the Club's calendar of events to find a topic that interests you. And for frequent attendees, Club membership offers free access to more than 75 events, a series of members-only events, plus a 60% discount on other events.
Posted November 07, 2012
Photo credit: US Library of Congress
Whether your candidate won or lost yesterday, our challenges as a nation persist. And whether the election left you feeling inspired or frustrated, the remedy is the same - You.
Yesterday we discussed two of your levers for change - your vote and your wallet. A third is your time. Volunteering in your community is the fastest way to feel the return on your investment.
To get involved we recommend Bay Area-based Volunteer Match. Launched in 1998 to connect nonprofit groups with citizens, they've since made more than six million referrals. Their web site allows users to easily find volunteer opportunities by filtering for location and cause area. Nearly every issue debated in this election cycle - employment, environment, healthcare, immigration - has a volunteer opportunity in your own community.
It may sound corny when an idealistic youngster quotes it but, really, be the change you want to see in the world.
Posted October 30, 2012
Photo Credit: US Library of Congress
Our friends on the East Coast woke up to some unfamiliar sights this morning, but we're relieved that they weathered the storm and are in a position to repair and rebuild. For families displaced by Sandy and facing devastating losses, we're inspired by the relief efforts currently being mounted by FEMA and the Red Cross.
This morning we made a donation to the Red Cross to help with disaster recovery and encourage you to do the same. Visit RedCross.org to make a contribution to their efforts. Or, even easier, text REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 donation.
Posted August 06, 2012
On our walks around the neighborhood we're seeing more and more fans of American made products, and not just the two-legged kind. There are scores of great brands producing stylish and high-quality dog products in the USA. We've assembled some of our favorites below.
Want to highlight a product adored by you or your dog? Leave a comment below.
Urban Driftwood Dog Bowls (pictured above). Individually produced by GO!PETDESIGN in New York. Reclaimed wood gives each piece a distinctive look, and if your dog drives his bowl around the floor while eating, this unique design will solve that problem.
RESQ/CO natural rope lead. RESQ/CO leashes are handmade in California of 3-strand premium grade line that features a five tuck hand-spliced handle, solid brass hardware and a hand-tooled leather tag. A portion of each purchase is donated to different cause each quarter.
See Scout Sleep Hemp Collars. Handmade in Louisiana by a pair of dog-loving designers, these collars are made of 100% hemp webbing and feature solid brass hardware. 10% of proceeds are donated to the Gulf Coast Fund
TriBeCaPets Logan dog bed. This handmade piece of pet furniture is constructed of oak and finished with an architectural grade clear coat. It's sized to suit your pet and the included cushion is available in more than a dozen fabrics.
West Paw Design Tizzi dog toy. Based in Bozeman, Montana, West Paw Design produces a line of eco-friendly pet apparel, beds and toys. They use recycled material to stuff their beds, reclaimed cotton to produce dog sweaters and employ a recycling program to remold used toys into new ones. Once your dog has had his way with the Tizzi, send the toy back to West Paw - they'll recycle the plastic into another toy and send you a voucher for a new product.
While it may not have been designed specifically for dogs, we know one puppy who's a fan of the Wm. J. Mills & Co. Waxed Cotton Canvas Tote Bag. Handmade on the North Fork since 1880.
Posted August 02, 2012
Victor and Sarah Lytvinenko founded Raleigh Denim in 2007 in their North Carolina apartment. Selling their possessions to raise the fund for materials and a sewing machine, their launch was long on enthusiasm if short on expertise.
Over the intervening five years they've built Raleigh Denim into a cult fave. Fusing traditional craftsmanship with a modern cut, their jeans are made using denim from Cone Mill's White Oak plant and vintage machinery such as the 43200G Union Special to produce a chainstitch hem. Each piece is signed on its inside pocket and the leather patch is handstamped with its edition number.
Denim is well suited to a passion project. Despite its ubiquity consumers continually show interest in finding the next best fit. And for Raleigh Denim, the next best fit is reviving traditional sewing methods while helping to revitalize the manufacturing industry in their home state.
Raleigh Denim is available at AB Fits in San Francisco and Blake in Portland.
Raleigh Denim: Handcrafted in North Carolina | UNC-TV from David Huppert on Vimeo.
Posted July 12, 2012
Over the past four years photographer Tadd Myers has been working on a very personal project that resonates with us at Fog + Foundry. From his home base in Grapevine, Texas, Myers has been hopscotching around the country to document American individuals and companies that continue to manufacture their wares by hand.
The project is both inspired by and dedicated to Myers' father, who himself was a craftsman and enjoyed working with his hands. That personal connection is evident in Myers' photography. His painstaking compositions reveal a deep respect for the work and the worker. In every series he has captured the passion and the commitment of the maker. As we often discuss here, maintaining high standards and keeping manufacturing domestic requires sacrifice.
Myers' work thus far is catalogued at his website, The American Craftsman Project. In the interests of building a larger audience for the project and publishing the photos as a book, Myers has launched a Kickstarter campaign to underwrite another round of trips to photograph additional craftsmen at work.
Take a moment to visit his Kickstarter project page to hear his pitch and contribute what you can.
Photo credit: Tadd Myers
Posted June 22, 2012
Image via Flickr user TheJosephBooys
To your right is a wildcatting, off-the-grid local who came up the coast to reenter society for a few hours, spinning tales of Big Sur in the 70s, and of house hunting for Robert Redford.
An older man and woman - newly coupled - are to your left. Leaning toward one another, laughing conspiratorially, they're up from Los Angeles or down from San Francisco to disappear.
Played out in this tableau is the essence of Big Sur's charm - just enough of the world for some, a complete escape for others. At this intersection stands the Big Sur Bakery.
Pastry chef Michelle Rizzolo and her chef husband Philip Wojtowicz decamped to Big Sur in 2001 marrying their culinary experiences at La Brea Bakery and Campanile in Los Angeles with a woodsy ingenuity. The result is a rustic outpost of soulful California cuisine that enhances the sense of connection to the earth.
A full bakery case shared by wholesome breads and rich strudels offers sustenance to hikers and early risers. Brunch becomes a showcase for the pizzas turned out by their wood-fired oven, and dinner is where the curious become converts, acceding to the dogma printed on each menu, "No phony allergies, bogus intolerances, nutritional nonsense or provincial preferences."
Cooking in any remote location requires inventiveness in both the use of resources and labor. Pared down dishes that highlight the quality of the few ingredients on each plate, like mushroom crudo, are joined by hearty, unfussy staples such as roasted lamb shank.
At the restaurant Big Sur is all around. The landscape of dense forest and encroaching fog is visible from every seat in the dining room. The cabin-like interior is lit only by candlelight. The service is unhurried. Just as you should be.
Posted June 15, 2012
Sometimes Dad deserves a chance to just sit back and relax. Following are some ways to make his me time extra special:
1) Nothing says easy summer living like this classic chair from L.L. Bean of Freeport, Maine. Made in the Adirondack region of New York State from sustainably harvested wood, this chair is guaranteed to lower his stress level each time he sits down.
2) Help Dad show off who’s "King of the Grill" with this monogrammed branding iron from Texas Irons of Austin, Texas. Personalized with 2 or 3 letters, it’s made from durable stainless steel that’s ready to withstand any grill.
3) Beer bottles from Stone Brewing Company get a second life as eco-friendly tumblers. They make a great conversation piece, no matter what he’s drinking. Crafted by BottleHood of San Diego, California.
4) Machined by hand from cold rolled steel in Joshua Tree, California, this bottle opener from J.L. Lawson & Co.
is the perfect accessory for his keychain or home bar. If you hurry, they’ll even personalize it for free for Father’s Day.
5) This 4-piece grilling set by Royall Grills
of Reedsburg, Wisconsin, is one of the last actually made in America. Each piece is constructed from high-carbon stainless steel and finished with rosewood handles.
Take some time out of your day to view our Relaxing Gifts for Dad Pinterest board
Posted June 14, 2012
If he’s a New Dad or a Dad-To-Be, becoming a Father is quite an adjustment. Make the transition easier with our guide to the best American-crafted gear for New Dads:
1) No self-respecting guy wants everyone to know that he’s carrying a diaper bag. That’s what makes this bag from Dad Gear of Denver, Colorado, so great. It’s an undercover diaper bag styled like a messenger bag, but with everything you need for a day out with baby.
2) This frame from Green House Framing of Portland, Oregon, is a handsome way to display a family picture. It’s made of wood salvaged from the Jim Beam Distillery in Clermont, Kentucky, for a distinctly masculine feel.
3) Every new Dad wants to make sure he documents as many "firsts" as possible. This camera strap from Tanner Goods of Portland, Oregon, ensures that his camera is always at hand. Made from Horween Chromexcel leather and sailing cord, it attaches without metal hardware in order to protect your camera.
4) These cufflinks are a unique way for Dad to take his little one wherever he goes. Artist Jackie Kaufman of Rock My World Inc. from Fort Lauderdale, Florida, uses lost wax casting of fingerprint impressions to create a custom, one-of-a-kind pair from sterling silver.
5) It goes without saying that Dad will have many late night sessions with baby. This simple, yet clever stand by Tinkering Monkey of Oakland, California, means that Dad can free his arms for steady rocking and still catch up on the game (or more likely, watch Sprout).
For more gift ideas for his first Father’s Day, visit our New Dad Pinterest board.