Wednesday, October 20, 2010

New Blog

Hey Everyone! Thanks for following me on this blog this summer. I have now begun a new blog for my Using the Social Web for Social Change course at Bainbridge Graduate Institute called Slow Goods: Movement to Preserve Handmade Products.

See you there! Thanks!

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Vermont Humor: AllCorn Solar Trackers

Scrap Wood Table

My summer internship at Yestermorrow has come to a close. After a fantastic last evening in Vermont with a beautiful Canadian Thanksgiving celebration, I packed my car and left the Mad River Valley. The final week at Yestermorrow was extremely busy as I finished up projects, made some final checks off my list, and started my sustainable business studies again at Bainbridge Graduate Institute.

One of the final projects I worked on was a scrapwood table, which I have been inspired to do from several different existing versions ( here here here.) For a couple weeks I have been collecting pieces of wood from the to-burn pile that range from soft and hardwoods to plywoods. What in my mind seemed like a simple project turned into a complex process of tweaking, gluing, and adjusting pieces with a mallet. A project like this shouldn't have been left to the last week as it left me rushing and lowering my standards!
Final pics of this project and other various projects I have worked on over the course of the summer will be posted later on as I start to photo document my work.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Nomadic Design

It was probably the second week I was here at Yestermorrow that I picked up this peculiar book, Nomadic Furniture. Flipping through it, I was instantly entertained: the handwritten pages, the freeflowing thoughts, and the obvious 70's design time stamp. I was reunited with this book during Small Scale Design/Build and thought that it was important to really dive into pages: forward thinking knock-down designs, design on a tight budget, recycling, and adapted modern interpretations of high profile designs. Inspiration is plenty.
The sawhorse leg table was a design consideration for my desk...maybe good workbench legs.
The disposable car seat above is my favorite, hands down. It is such a reflection of the times! Plus that baby looks so happy.

Saturday, October 2, 2010


After many bottles of wine combined with some resourcefulness and finally the corks have another use. I really like the size and look of the large champagne corks and wanted to keep them intact as much as possible. I decided just to drill a hole into the cork and gluing a strong magnet inside.
I haven't been too impressed with many of the projects out there for use of corks. Of course the ideas haven't been popping (pun intended) into my head in abundance either. I decided to make use of the real cork corks (as opposed to plastic corks) for a trivet for hot plates and pans.
I used a scrap piece of Butternut wood and drilled in 36 shallow holes that the corks could sit in and to remove any gaps the gluing would have left. The wood was finished with linseed oil. I then cut down the lengths of the corks to about half their height (otherwise the trivet would have appeared unstable). I also cut four slivers of cork and placed those underneath the trivet so that the it wouldn't slide around on the table. A little glue and trivet is done!

Thursday, September 30, 2010

The Beehive Design Collective

The Beehive Design Collective, a volunteer artist group out of Machias, Maine, made a stop at Yestermorrow to share their latest masterpiece: "The True Cost of Coal." The collective transforms hushed global issues into large-scale hand-drawn illustrations that depict the stories and the effects of major social and environmental catastrophes.

The group can spend between 6 months to several years collecting the stories, observing the issues, researching, and interpreting the information into black and white illustrations. They then spend the following months traveling the US to tell the stories embedded into their pieces.

The story they shared with us is the story of mountain top removal in Appalachia. "As a resource-extraction colony within the US, Appalachia is sacrificed and poisoned in the name of cheap electricity for consumers and consolidation of power and wealth for corporations and government." They are seeing their health decline, their landscape transformed, their money escaping, their children leaving, and their history being destroyed.
The monster machine, above, is a 22-story dragline used to excavate thin layers of coal. After mountain clear-cuts occur on mountain tops, some dynamite blows the top off, these behemoth's come in an dig out the layer of coal (imagine the coal layers being the middle layer of icing in a cake.)
Over consumption and perceived needs are depicted in this section called the Temple of Conspicuous Consumption. Consuming "green" products isn't making the situation better...we can't consume our way into a better environment. In the bottom left of the image above, a bulldozer is pushing a small building over a cliff. This is representing an elementary school in the valley that is at the base of a coal slurry damn (used to clean off the coal prior to burning.) If the damn breaks, it was warned to the school that everyone had 3 minutes to evacuate the area, or they wouldn't make it out of the valley (apparently, they always have their buses on hand, just in case.)

The frogs above depict the inescapable cycle of a coal miner: working long days in the mine and poor working conditions lead to increasing physical health issues, the workers and families then spend more money on health care, local gardens and food systems are being polluted and destroyed, the families are then becoming increasing dependent on pay and losing their own independence.
The illustrators for the Beehive spend massive amounts of time researching local native plant and animal species (current and extinct) to better portray the local environment and history. Every plant and animal is drawn so accurately that identification of species is able.
Community organization has begun at the grassroots level and stories are being shared. The above scene is the story telling and knowledge sharing regarding the issue of mountain top removal in communities (diverse members.)
When the Beehive asked local residents what would be an indication that reclamation of land was happening by citizens, they envisioned that their children would return back home and have a reason to stay. The above section is a representation of the Longest Walk, a cross-continental journey of homecoming.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010


While I am sure I have dissected a milkweed plant at some point in my youth, I never really been as fascinated with it till now. Andrea and I stopped and examined the complexity of the milkweed and were amazed at the structures, textures, and possibilities for biomimicry (we were definitely in the design mode at this point).The milkweed has a soft case shaped similar to an elongated teardrop. Soft spikes aligned vertically run the whole length of the pod. When cracked open, the seeds are closely stacked on eachother to form a tube in the center of the pod.
The outer case has this complicated protective structure which reminded me of the texture of bone. Sticky milky substance was released when touched.When cracked open, the silky hairs are revealed. Each seed has a tail of the threads that allow the seed to float around with the wind.