Alabama Sawyer’s Not So Secret Diary

1stdibs Aberdeen About Us AIA AK Jewelry AL Businesses AL.com alabama Alabama Sawyer alasaw Amanda Loper American Institute of Architects American Society of Interior Designers apps apps for nature lovers April ASID best of Biophilia Biophilic Design Birmingham Birmingham Businesses Birmingham Museum of Art Birmingham Organizations Birmingham Zoo blog board oil Boston botany Bromberg's Buffalo Rock built in shelving candles Captain America Christmas cider vinegar cities city city composting programs classic clever tips + tricks Cliff coasters cocktail cubes coffee shop compost compost pile composting composting programs concentration conference contest corner shelving creative writing Crying Indian PSA cutting board cutting board oil David Baker Architects decomposition Dering Hall differences in dish soap DIY Earth Day Earth Overshoot Day ECam and Co. eco friendly entertainment environmental environmental glossary environmental holiday Famous in AL favorites fixed bracket shelving floating shelving focus Fossil Fools Day fruit fly fruit fly trap gas tax gift gift guide glossary Golden Rule Barbecue Goop Goop Exclusive goopGIFT green burial Gulf State Park Gulf State Park shipment Gumption handmade health benefits Hemlock Miyake Bench history of AL holiday holiday gift guide holidays how to how to guide how to polish wood furniture ice bucket instructional guide interior design Interior Designer International Day for Preventing the Exploitation of the Environment in War and Armed Conflict interview jar Keep America Beautiful kitchen knife holder Leigh Leigh Spencer link list longest running Made South magnolia MAKEbhm Michael Bruno Milwaukee mineral oil miyake miyake bench Montpelier movies municipal compost program NASA National Endangered Species Day National Recycling Day natural burial nature nature lovers New York Times news Noaway Counter Top Compost Bin oiling a cutting board orchard table pallet pallet compost pile pecan PeeWee Herman personal story Petite Noaway Counter Top Compost Bin plants plastic wrap podcast pop up shop PSA public service announcement recycle recycling Red Mountain Park red oak round sunrise table science shelving shipment smart phones soap software South Jordan Spiderman Spring Break 2019 sputnik table sustainable sweepstakes The Boogie Tom Ford tray Trilogy Leather utensil holder walnut walnut wine rack WBHM weedkiller white oak white oak host stand wine rack Wine X Wine Rack wood wood furniture wood furniture polish wood polish wood scented wooden cutting board Workshops Inc

Eco Friendly Ways to Save Money

April 15, 2019

Eco Friendly Ways to Save Money

Usually the big misconception about going eco friendly is it requires gratuitous time and money to accomplish. Let’s put that misconception to rest, and talk about all of the easy ways to make your existence on this planet more cost effective and eco friendly.


Carpool: This is a good way to cut down on gas expenses and reduce your carbon footprint. Better yet, start biking everywhere. It’s obviously not an optimal solution for everyone - some places just don’t have the infrastructure to implement or maintain safe + usable bike paths.


No Disposable Kitchenware: Consider purchasing cloth napkins, reusable dishes + silverware, metal straws, ect… All of the disposable products that you have to keep buying week after week add up to a lot AND will eventually go to a landfill.


Cook For You: No dining out or buying those premade meals. Making the food yourself is a great way to save money without supporting restaurants whose practices are less than ideal for the environment. And what better way to cook for you than by maintaining your own garden? I understand that not everyone has the time to care for a garden, but it doesn’t have to be anything fancy, even growing your own basil can cut down on shopping expenses.


Compost: Why not? Especially if you’re caring for a garden. Composting is a great way to reduce your production of food waste while simultaneously reducing your need to purchase fertilizer. While you’re at it, take a look at our beautiful Noaway Counter Top Compost Bin.


Go Vegetarian: Going vegetarian pairs nicely with the gardening and composting tips mentioned above. You probably already know this, but the meat industry produces huge amounts of pollution. Moreover, by cutting meat out of your diet, you can greatly reduce the amount of money spent on food.

Sources & Further Reading

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Clever Eco Hints for Coffee Shops

April 08, 2019

Clever Eco Hints for Coffee Shops

My boss recently visited the The Red Cat Coffee House, and was so impressed by their clever use of uncooked spaghetti coffee stirrers, she requested I write a blog post pertaining to different eco-friendly hints for coffee shops. Here are some of the tips I came across:  

 Uncooked spaghetti coffee stirrers: Well, what were you expecting? Of course I'm going to include the example that prompted this blog post to be written. And c'mon. If you haven't been to The Red Cat, go ahead. Treat yourself. Another option if you don't want to use uncooked spaghetti is reusable metal spoons. 

 Go Green: This might seem obvious, but you can boost sales by "going green" since there is a large consumer base that loves that type of thing. Ensure your coffee is organic, fair trade, and shade grown. What does shade grown have to do with it? Shade grown coffee just means that the coffee was grown in the shade of nearby plants and trees. This method of raising coffee promotes a healthy ecosystem.

Flickr: "Sustainability poster- Fair trade"

 Offer discounts: Give customers that bring in their own mugs a discount so you don't use as many disposable cups that will eventually be sent to a landfill. Or don't use disposable cups at all, just have reusable cups and mugs.

There are plenty of other eco- friendly tips and tricks you can use to make your coffee shop sustainable. Read about them here

SOURCES

Greener Ideal: "How to Make Your Coffee Shop More Sustainable"

The Red Cat

Pixabay: Spaghetti 

Wikipedia Commons: "A small cup of coffee"

Flickr: "Sustainability poster- Fair trade"

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Leigh and Velma's Spring Break (2019)

April 02, 2019

Leigh and Velma's Spring Break (2019)

I am heading through the Smokey Mountains from Asheville, NC with my daughter, Velma, who is in the back seat. Pink’s cover of “A Million Dreams” from The Greatest Showman pipes through the speakers, interspersed with Siri chiming out directions. “Continue on I-40 West towards Canton.” 

 

We gain elevation. Static takes over the airwaves, so I turn off the music. The expertise of a previous chapter of my life, five years of driving mountain roads in Colorado, kicks in. The continuous line of freight trucks is prohibited from using the left lane, so it leaves me a private highway, but there is no shoulder. Each completed rolling turn reveals another.

 

I recall the past few days of our Mother Daughter Spring Break. We toured the opulence of the Biltmore Estate, a 250-room home built by George Vanderbilt in 1895. The diverse craft employed to build the 52 fireplaces alone are impressive. The Downton Abbey servant quarters deserve an Instagram takeover of @thingsorganizedneatly. The gardens are firmly in the realm of @accidentallywesanderson. We ate well and enjoyed our hotel stay, complete with in-lobby dog adoptions and West Coast Swing lessons. 

 

Highlights in Asheville included visiting Lexington Glassworks right off the main drag. The space could be our template for an artisan manufacturing space and gallery in Birmingham, complete with craft demonstrations. I met Connie from East Fork Pottery, the up and coming Heath of the East. The brief visit gave me a chance to connect for a moment with another female business owner. She also works with her husband. She is also an Angeleno living in the South. The business is growing, producing high quality craft in the US. Their new 70,000 SF space and they are already too small.

 

At the exact same time, in the very same region, Cliff and our son, Scout, are embarking on a four day trek on a section of the Appalachian Trail. Every year, 4500 “through hikers” leave their conventional lives behind and spend the better half of a year hiking 2,180 miles from Georgia to Maine. I fantasize what it would be like to check out for six months and only think about one foot in front of the other and preparing my next meal. Going to bed at sunset.

 

As I drive, my mind ruminates between two choices. Lean in. Ask for what we need to grow Alabama Sawyer. Or Pack up and Check out. 

 

The road straightens out. Farms appear with tall red barns and grass fed live stock from Central Casting. We pass Bush’s Beans plant on the right. Who knew? We enter Pigeon Forge and meet up with our friends at Dolly Parton’s Dream More resort and ride the tram to the park. Yes, it’s called the “Dream More.”

 

Perhaps you have heard the metaphor that starting a business is like building a plane, while it is taking off. Our first ride is Wild Eagle, a “wing coaster”. Riders sit on either side of the track with nothing above or below, while it climbs, inverts and swoops.

 

We loaded in. I tested Velma’s and my protection at least three times. Then, I prepared for the climb, kept my eyes open and got ready to soar like an eagle.

 

“They can say, they can say it all sounds crazy

They can say, they can say I've lost my mind

I don't care, I don't care, so call me crazy

We can live in a world that we design”

-----

by Leigh Spencer

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3 Ways to Celebrate 'Keep America Beautiful' Month

April 01, 2019

3 Ways to Celebrate 'Keep America Beautiful' Month

April is 'Keep America Beautiful' month! One excellent way to celebrate would be to participate in the trash tag challenge (which seems to be declining in popularity and relevance unfortunately.) What's the trash tag challenge you ask? On Reddit and Twitter, users have been taking 'before' pictures of areas filled with litter; and 'after' pictures of all the litter collected into trash bags. I love the trash tag challenge because it's a viral trend that benefits the environment.

Another way to participate would be to get your workplace involved in 'Recycling at Work'. This voluntary national effort is dedicated to increasing recycling in the workplace. That's a pretty noble cause, isn't it?

Of course the trash tag challenge and the 'Recycling at Work' effort aren't the only ways to participate in 'Keep America Beautiful' month. Planting and maintaining a garden is another great way to celebrate.

 

 

A woman enjoying gardening outdoors - Free Stock Photo

 

Since we're on the topic of gardening, composting for your garden is incredibly resourceful and will greatly help in your gardening adventures. If you need tips getting started, read our blog post on building a pallet backyard compost bin. What's more, this FineGardening article will give you all the information you need to start composting. Keep in mind that you'll need to store the compost somewhere before moving it to your backyard pile, so feel free to check out our beautiful Noaway Counter Top Compost Bin. These expertly crafted bins come in magnolia, walnut, and sapwood made using timber sourced almost entirely from the urban forests of Alabama.  

 

Sources & Further Reading

Olive, Jim. “STUDENTS PICK UP TRASH ALONG ROADSIDE.” Wikipedia Commons, Source U.S. National Archives and Records Administration, 9 Oct. 2011, commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:STUDENTS_PICK_UP_TRASH_ALONG_ROADSIDE_-_NARA_-_543927.jpg.

Asarch, Steven. “Viral #TrashTag Movement Wants to Make the World a Cleaner Place.” Newsweek, 11 Mar. 2019, www.newsweek.com/trashtag-trash-tag-challenge-twitter-reddit-1359221.

“Keep America Beautiful.” Keep America Beautiful, 6 Feb. 2019, www.kab.org/?gclid=CjwKCAjwm-fkBRBBEiwA966fZBtWrzdMQqR5QoLIeuoiKKZsJAIaZEVuJxcy9PgYPZgVFWqIDLBUshoCiLYQAvD_BwE.

“Get Started in Composting.” FineGardening, 25 Apr. 2014, www.finegardening.com/article/get-started-in-composting.

“Take the Pledge Andearn Recognition For.” RecyclingWork RSS, recyclingatwork.org/.

“A Woman Enjoying Gardening Outdoors.” Freestockphotos.biz, www.freestockphotos.biz/stockphoto/16337.

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Our 5 Most Popular Species of Wood

April 01, 2019

Our 5 Most Popular Species of Wood

Walnut

The dark brown wood is strong with a handsome grain and polishes easily. Rich, flavorful nuts taste delicious fresh and retain their flavor and texture during cooking. They belong to the same family as hickories and pecans. 

Walnut trees are monoecious, meaning they can self-pollinate. However, walnut groves are best for nut production. It's no wonder that walnut is one of our most in demand species of wood, just look at some of the walnut products we offer:

 

Small Walnut Breakfast in Bed Tray | Alabama Sawyer

Small Walnut Breakfast in Bed Tray | Alabama Sawyer

 

Walnut Utensil Holder | Alabama Sawyer

Walnut Utensil Holder | Alabama Sawyer

 

Live Edge Walnut Knife Holder | Alabama Sawyer

Live Edge Walnut Knife Holder | Alabama Sawyer

 

Magnolia

Named after French botanist Pierre Magnol, the magnolia tree belongs to the Magnoliaceae family. This type of tree isn't just old, it's ancient. It appeared before bees did and many Magnolia trees are known to survive for 100+ years.

Mississippi and Louisiana share the Magnolia as the official state flower. Speaking of which, Magnolia flowers can be pink, green, white, purple, or yellow. Here are a couple Magnolia products we offer:

 

Petite Noaway Compost Bin in Magnolia with White Oil | Alabama Sawyer Petite Noaway Compost Bin in Magnolia with Blue Oil | Alabama Sawyer

Petite Magnolia Noaway Compost Bins with White Oil (left) and Blue Oil (right) | Alabama Sawyer

 

Both Sizes of Breakfast in Bed Trays | Alabama Sawyer

Large and Small Breakfast in Bed Trays in Magnolia | Alabama Sawyer

 

White Oak

Also known by its Latin name Quercus alba, some white oak trees have lived up to 450 years. Despite the name 'white oak', these trees usually don't have white bark since they are instead named for the color of the finished wood. White oaks have certain characteristics that make it resistant to water and rot. These characteristics make it ideal to be used to make wine and whiskey barrels that resist leakage.

It is used in construction, shipbuilding, architecture, and more. White Oak has also been used extensively to build Japanese martial arts weaponry due to its density and strength. It's no wonder that White Oak is such a popular species of wood. Here are some of our White Oak products:

 

WineX Wine Rack

White Oak WineX Wine Rack | Alabama Sawyer

 

White Oak Ice Bucket

White Oak Ice Bucket | Alabama Sawyer

 

White Oak Round Sunrise Table | Alabama Sawyer

White Oak Round Sunrise Table | Alabama Sawyer

 

Pecan

The name “Pecan” is a Native American word that was used to describe nuts requiring a stone to crack. It is a species of Hickory, native to Mexico and the Southern United States. Pecans are not actually considered a nut, but instead are a fruit surrounded by a husk with a stone pit in the center, which is the part you eat. The state tree of Texas, it can live to be anywhere between 300 - 1000 years old. See some of our Pecan pieces below:

 

Pecan Table Top | Alabama Sawyer

Pecan Table Top | Alabama Sawyer

 

Pecan Counter Top

Pecan Counter Top | Alabama Sawyer

 

Red Oak

Also known as Spanish Oak, its name comes from the red hairs on its twigs. Southern Red Oak is a durable shade tree which reaches 60 to 80 feet high. See some of our gorgeous Red Oak products below:

 

Red Oak Orchard Table | Alabama Sawyer

Red Oak Orchard Table | Alabama Sawyer

 

Red Oak Miyake Bench | Alabama Sawyer

Red Oak Miyake Bench | Alabama Sawyer

 

Sources & Further Reading

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5 Environmental Holidays

April 01, 2019

5 Environmental Holidays

Most people reading this will know about and love Earth Day, so you’re probably aware that it’s celebrated around the globe every April 22nd. What you might not know is that peace activist John McConnell created Earth Day and its unofficial flag (see the featured image above.) 

But Earth Day isn’t the only environmentally oriented holiday, meaning April 22nd isn’t the only time to celebrate our planet. In fact, ‘celebrate’ might not even be the best word here since you can celebrate the Earth all you want, but at the end of the day the Earth should benefit from those celebrations. Instead, I think that ‘honor’ is better suited for our purposes. Read on to learn about 5 non Earth Day environmental holidays to honor our planet:

Fossil Fools Day: This holiday gets extra points for cleverly referencing April Fools Day by taking place on April 1st while the name is a play on the words ‘fossil fuels’ + ‘April Fools Day’.

Clever name aside, Fossil Fools Day (FFD) began in 2004 across the US and Canada as an environmental demonstration day. Now FFD is celebrated in many different cities all over the world with events intended to promote education regarding alternative energy sources, environmental justice, effective legislation, and corporate responsibility to the environment (Source: Wikipedia).

Earth Overshoot Day: You better get your passport ready, ‘cause you’re about to go on a guilt trip with this one. Nah, just kidding. Earth Overshoot Day (EOD) will, however, stir your inner eco-activist when you learn what it’s about. The EOD’s website put it best, “Earth Overshoot Day marks the date when we (all of humanity) have used more from nature than our planet can renew in the entire year. In 2018, it fell on August 1. We are using 1.7 Earths. We use more ecological resources and services than nature can regenerate through overfishing, overharvesting forests, and emitting more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere than ecosystems can absorb” (Source: Overshootday.org).

That’s upsetting. So what does Earth Overshoot Day do to ameliorate that? More importantly, how can I help? The website then goes on to explain (with some excellent resources), that it is possible to improve sustainability in the areas of, “food, cities, population, and energy to #MoveTheDate” (Source: Overshootday.org). There it is, the ultimate goal of EOD is to #MoveTheDate, and the website gives a number of ways to achieve that.

International Day For Preventing the Exploitation of the Environment in War and Armed Conflict: In 2001, the UN declared that November 6th would be the International Day for Preventing the Exploitation of the Environment in War and Armed Conflict, which I'm going to be referring to using the acronym IDPEEWAC.

The UN created IDPEEWAC to acknowledge the great damage that tends to come to the environment during wartime, and seeks to minimize it by implementing its own list of Sustainable Development Goals, which you can read more about by following the link to the UN's web page about the holiday (Source: UN.org).

National Recycling Day: You can probably guess just from its name what this holiday revolves around. National Recycling Day (NRD) falls on November 15th, and aims to persuade people into buying recycled goods and encourages people to recycle as much as possible.

However, it's not just about buying recycled products or using your recycling bin (although both of those things are important.) If you want to really dig your heels into it, then consider participating at a local event aimed at promoting the NRD and its goals (Source: NationalToday.com)

National Endangered Species Day: The holiday is held on the third day in May every year. I know what you're thinking, "Well, I'm not actively setting polar bears on fire OR stomping bees. How could I even help?" One way would be to donate money or participate in events for the National Wildlife Federation.

You also have the option to discuss the National Endangered Species day on social media with the '#ESDay', or even sign a petition. Oh, and if you come across an endangered specie? Try not to wreck its habitat (Source: NWF.org).

 

African Wild Dog

African Wild Dog (Source: Pixabay.com).

SOURCES:

Popular Science: “10 Environmental Holidays That Are Cooler Than Earth Day”

Wikipedia: “John McConnell”

Wikipedia: “Earth Day”

Wikipedia: “Fossil Fools Day”

Wikipedia: “Earth Overshoot Day”

Earth Overshoot Day home page

Wikipedia: "International Day for Preventing the Exploitation of the Environment in War and Armed Conflict"

UN.org: "International Day for Preventing the Exploitation of 

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April 01, 2019

The Old 280 Boogie

As an Alabama business, we love promoting and discussing some of the best Alabama has to offer. In fact, the Old 280 Boogie is one of those businesses that we love promoting.


What is The Boogie?


The Old 280 Boogie is a concert and multicultural event that takes place annually along, you guessed it, highway 280. According to the Old 280 Boogie event website,


The annual Spring ‘Old 280’ Boogie started 18 years ago on the one year anniversary of state Highway 280 opening-up and routing around our little town. This one-day spring gathering is set on the creative grounds of Standard Deluxe Inc. renowned for its cool and hospitable Southern ambiance.”


The boogie will be held Saturday April 19th, and honestly, the lineup looks awesome featuring Cedric Burnside, Sarah Shook & The Disarmers, Ben Sollee & Friends, Liz Brasher, The Pine Hill Haints, and Young Valley. Bands from previous years include Alabama Shakes, Jason Isbell, Lonnie Holley Band, Heath Green & the Makeshifters, and so many more!


But it’s not just Alabama Sawyer that thinks the Old 280 Boogie is great, Garden & Gun had great things to say about it too, “Part music festival, part yard-party, this BYOB event draws fans twice a year to tiny Waverly. Also called the Waverly Boogie, its spring installment has been going strong for seventeen years, and organizer Scott Peek added the Fall Boogie in 2012. Music runs from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m., with as many as six bands.”


So what are you waiting for? Go to their website and buy a ticket! 


SOURCES & FURTHER READING


This Is Alabama | Southern hospitality and one heck of a party in Waverly, Alabama


Garden & Gun | Your Guide to Summer Music Fests

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5 Birmingham Associations & Organizations We Love

March 26, 2019

5 Birmingham Associations & Organizations We Love

1) If you've never listened to 90.3 WBHM, then you're really missing out. They deliver high quality news broadcasting on topics ranging from the arts to science & technology. We love supporting them, even if that support goes out in the form of simply tuning in and paying attention. But we also like to give them money, and you should too.


 

2) According to its description on Google, Red Mountain Park is a "1,500-acre park with 15 miles of scenic trails, historic mines, zip lines, tree house & a dog park." Speaking of hiking, there's nothing better than hiking a Red Mountain trail with loved ones. For me "loved ones" refers to my framed picture of Frances McDormand bench pressing a grizzly bear.

 

Red Mountain Park Trail Map

 

3) The first time I visited the Birmingham Zoo, I got to bottle feed a koala. Then I got pooped on by some birds at the Aviary. Needless to say it was the best day of my life. On a completely different note, Alabama Sawyer has made a bunch of different stools for the Birmingham Zoo, so be sure to check them out the next time you visit!

 

Birmingham Zoo

 

4) The Birmingham Museum of Art is a great place to visit if you get the chanceI know I know. You might hate museums because you think they're boring. That was my position on museums before I ever visited one, the BMA being the first. Honestly, they've had some pretty great exhibits and pieces on display over the years. And I'm not just saying that because they've exhibited some of our furniture before. No, I've liked visiting the BMA long before I started working here. 

 

 

5) Here is a description of Workshops, Inc. taken directly from their website, "Workshops, Inc. provides outsourcing solutions for local businesses. All outsourced handwork is completed by people with disabilities and other barriers to employment who are striving for their highest vocational potential." We've worked with Workshops, Inc. in the past, and would love to work with them again. 

 

 

Sources & Further Reading

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"More Cities Stop Recycling. They Can't Afford It." - New York Times

March 26, 2019

"More Cities Stop Recycling. They Can't Afford It." - New York Times

Michael Corkery of the New York Times recently published an article on the growing number of cities around the U.S. that are halting their recycling programs. According to the article, China (a big buyer of U.S. recyclable material) reduced spending after it was determined that far too much trash was getting mixed in with the recyclables. This has prompted an increase in the cost it takes to recycle, and the subsequent closing of many recycling centers around the U.S.

Something really cool about this piece is that the online version links to an article which lists six items that are commonly put into recycling bins by mistake. If your city still has an affordable recycling program, that's great! Just make sure you're not recycling non recyclable materials.

That said, one thing about the article is certain, there's a need for more innovative and lasting recycling solutions.

   

Sources Cited

“Plastic Bottles Bottles Recycling.” PICRYL- The World's Largest Public Domain Source, 19 Mar. 2019, picryl.com/media/plastic-bottles-bottles-recycling-736da0. 

Corkery, Michael. “As Costs Skyrocket, More U.S. Cities Stop Recycling.” The New York Times, The New York Times, 16 Mar. 2019, www.nytimes.com/2019/03/16/business/local-recycling-costs.html.

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March 19, 2019

Gas Tax in Alabama

According to a recent AL.com article, Alabama will be introducing a 10 cent per gallon  gas tax in order to pay for roads. The plan is to phase the gas tax in over the next three years, which would accrue around $380 million annually.

Read more in the aforementioned AL.com article, "Why Alabama may have approved its last gas tax increase"

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Interviewing MAKEbhm: AK Jewelry

March 19, 2019

Interviewing MAKEbhm: AK Jewelry

I interviewed AK Jewelry of MAKEbhm a few days ago at her work station at Make. My first question led her to dicuss her length of time at MAKEbhm...

How long have you been working at MAKEbhm?

I’ve been here a little over two years.

What’s your favorite thing about working with MAKEbhm?

I love being at Make (MAKEbhm) because working alone can be really isolating. So working in a space like this I feel like I have coworkers. And I feel like your work ethic plays off of other people.

How did you get into jewelry making?

In college I decided that I wanted to learn how to make jewelry because I’ve always been interested in it. So I talked to the dean of my school and there was a girl who attended my school and she was a goldsmith out in New Mexico, and I emailed her. She invited me to come out and do an apprenticeship, so I did that for a few weeks out in New Mexico just to see if I liked it. After I graduated college I went to Revere Academy in San Francisco for jewelry making.

On your website it says, “A.K. is inspired by the imperfections of this life, but how the imperfect can still be used to display undeniable beauty. She hopes to achieve this idea in her designs.” Can you tell me about some pieces you’ve made that reflect this idea of capturing imperfect beauty?

A lot of my pieces start out with me just looking at a stone, and then creating it from that. So a lot of the stones that I pick out aren’t perfect. I’m drawn to those stones. The metal isn’t necessarily going to be perfect when setting a stone like that- I like that you can see the imperfections. Imperfections aren’t necessarily a bad thing. But that’s the thing about custom orders, people really want a piece that feels like them.

Could you name some artists whose work inspires your own OR artists whose work you admire?

The jewelry artist who inspires me the most is Marco Bicego, he’s actually why I started getting into jewelry making. A lot of it is cast but still has these little imperfections that I love. I also tend to pay attention to the cycles that fashion is going through, but I’ll find  a specific piece that I like that inspires me to make something.

 

About MAKEbhm

I recently got the opportunity to sit down and chat with some of the creative folks at MAKEbhm, which is a group of businesses that include Alabama Sawyer, ECam and Co., Amanda Loper, and more.

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What NOT to Compost

March 18, 2019

What NOT to Compost

Composting is a great way to generate fertilizer for your garden. That said - ensure you’re not composting materials that shouldn’t be composted.

  • Dog + Cat Poop
  • Vegetarian animal poop = perfect to compost; feel free to use rabbit, chicken, horse, and cow poop. The rule of thumb is that manure from vegetarian animals is acceptable while manure from carnivorous animals is not. Meaning no contributions from Mr. Whiskers.

    A Hungry Bunch taken from the Library of Congress.

    Inorganic Materials + Diseased Plants + Cooking Oil
    This should be obvious, but anything that’s glass, metal, or plastic isn’t going to break down in a compost pile. Additionally, treated lumber or sawdust from treated lumber shouldn’t be composted. As far as diseased plants go, think about it. Do you really want to raise plants using compost from a diseased plant? Probably not. And cooking oil? It’s hard to break down cooking oil and will eventually attract pests. Cooking oil actually slows down the decomposition process, so you’re better off disposing of it some other way.

    Meat + Dairy Products
    Technically you can compost meats, but doing so will give your compost pile seriously bad odor. Additionally, don’t be surprised when your pile becomes the most popular eatery for our friend the squirrel, or his friend the raccoon. You should avoid composting dairy products for the same reasons you avoid composting meat. Smelliness + uninvited critters.

      
    Lunch Hour! (left) and Typical Cows (right) both taken from the Library of Congress.

    Glossy Paper
    This includes magazines, business cards with a shiny finish, catalogs, wrapping paper, etc… Usually this type of paper has been chemically treated. Interestingly enough the Alabama Sawyer business card would be fine to compost since it doesn't have that shiny finish. 

    "Look at that subtle off-white coloring. The tasteful thickness of it. Oh my God, it even has a watermark!" 

    Since we're on the topic of compost, feel free to check out our Petite Noaway Counter Top Compost Bin

     

    sources

    https://balconygardenweb.com/things-you-cant-compost-what-not-to-compost/
    https://www.smallfootprintfamily.com/10-things-you-should-not-put-in-a-compost-pile

    https://www.loc.gov/item/thc1995003748/PP/ (glass bottle image taken from the library of congress)

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    Dering Hall Sweepstakes: Win the Miyake Bench

    March 12, 2019

    Dering Hall Sweepstakes: Win the Miyake Bench

    Alabama Sawyer is doing a sweepstakes with Dering Hall. You could win a free Miyake Bench! Just enter your name and email address and you're all set. Be sure to enter by March 13th in order to be eligible. If you'd rather purchase our Miyake Bench, or if the sweepstakes is over, you can find it on our website

     

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    Interviewing MAKEbhm: Amanda Loper

    March 12, 2019

    Interviewing MAKEbhm: Amanda Loper

    I interviewed Amanda Loper of David Baker architects a few days ago in a small conference room in MAKEbhm. My first question addressed the length of time she's been working at MAKEbhm...

    How long have you been working at MAKEbhm?

    I think we started in October of 2016, so, how ever many years it’s been since then. A little over two years.

    What's your favorite thing about working at MAKEbhm?

    So we started in office from the west coast. In a sense I was this random satellite office on my own. But I had just come from working with 35 people everyday. And I realized very quickly that working from my kitchen was very lonely. But from day one at MAKE, it’s like I had a built in office. I actually had office-mates. I would say it’s really the community and camaraderie.

    On your website it says you are working to, “bring social awareness to issues of housing and density within the urban setting.” Could you list some of the issues associated with housing and density in the urban setting?

    In San Francisco that work looks different than it does here. The big problem there is that there’s a lot of jobs, and a lot people want to live there. But there’s not a lot of land. So there are affordability issues because construction is so expensive. So we work to find innovative ways to make construction more affordable and less expensive. That could be affordability by design by making smaller units. Just innovative housing models that still provides a high quality building for a lower cost. We know that a lot of people in the country are housing burdened, meaning they spend more than a third of their income on housing.

    That’s not good, it’s hard to thrive when you’re paying that much for housing. Even a place like Birmingham where people think it’s a cheap place to live, the data still shows us that people are still housing burdened. In Birmingham one of the issues has just been to raise the conversation because the conversation is not being had. In San Francisco, random people on the bus talk about these issues. But here, it’s not really the topic. But still some of our cities are experiencing an economic boom, so prices are pretty high in Birmingham and Chattanooga right now. So we realized that we can use a lot of strategies that we cooked up in San Francisco in the South East as well.

    What type of work do you do for the neighborhood-serving community center in Hunter’s View?

    That’s a master planned community that used to be a post WWII government developed housing project that was in disrepair and not designed well. So we had done three blocks in that neighborhood, and now we’re doing a fourth. The community center is the crown jewel of that plan, it sits right in the center and is underneath affordable family housing.

    We designed that whole building all the way from looking at how it fit into the zoning of that area, we configured the building. There’s a daycare center there and a food bank as well. There’s community events and exercise spaces. We designed all of that in a pretty cost effective environment. So we had to really sharpen our pencils to get that project to work.

    What is your favorite project you've ever worked on?

    Hmm, that’s tough. You know, I like most everything I work on. One of my favorite things is Potrero 1010 because I worked on it from the first year I was in office from 2006 and it just finished last year. It’s also a great example of a public private partnership since there’s a public park that a private developer maintains. It’s also a mixed income building so you have people making like, 30% of what the average San Franciscan makes living in that building.  

    What is your favorite thing about your job?

    Well, it never gets old to see something that I’ve drawn, and designed, and dreamed come to reality. I cry at probably every project grand opening just because of the stories of people that were living in their car. It gets me every single time. Even if it’s like, a coffee shop. That feeling never gets old.

     

    About MAKEbhm

    I recently got the opportunity to sit down and chat with some of the creative folks at MAKEbhm, which is a group of businesses that include Alabama Sawyer, ECam and Co., Amanda Loper, and more.

    Read more →

    Interviewing MAKEbhm: ECam and Co.

    March 08, 2019

    Interviewing MAKEbhm: ECam and Co.

    I interviewed candle maker Elizabeth Cameron of ECam and Co. in her workshop where I was greeted by a strong wave of various candle scents. Glass vessels of multiple shapes and sizes lined the shelves, some with her brand specific label and some without. I began with a question about her length of time at MAKEbhm...

    How long have you been working at MAKEbhm?

    I have been here since September. So just a couple of months, but it feels like forever.

    What's your favorite thing about working at MAKEbhm?

    I love that I get to share this space with so many creative people, but that I’m not in anybody’s way over here in my little corner room. But like I said, I also love the group aspect of it. I can talk to anybody who’s in here and everyone is friendly. You meet new people everyday, and I think that’s really fun.

    How do you hope your business will grow and evolve in the coming years?

    This year starting in January, this became my full time job. I had a day job for a while, and so there are a lot of things that are changing daily. I've grown so much in the past two months. One is example is that I got my candles into a couple more stores. I hope I continue to get into more stores and that I continue to get my name out there so that people recognize me when they see my products. But I am still taking it day by day. I'm not really looking to become this multi million dollar company though.

    What first inspired you to start making candles?

    So all of my candles are made out of wine and liquor bottles. I love wine and liquor bottles, but hated throwing them away. I hated the fact that it isn't good for the environment. So I instead of buying all of these toxin filled candles I decided I would try to make my own. It's also very unique, there aren't a lot of people out there who do the same concept. I have find ways to make mine unique and different with my own branding.

    What are some of your favorite scents?

    Currently my favorite scents are midnight bourbon, lush linen, grapefruit mint. One I just recently got is called cashmere cedar, it's very clean and sweet which I like.

    What is the hardest part of the candle making process?

    There are a lot of difficult thing in my day to day tasks. Cutting the bottles tends to be very hard. It can be dangerous but it takes a lot of practice. There are a lot of technical things that go along with it, there is science behind it. It's not just pouring and drying. Communicating with other businesses is also kind of difficult, I've grown a lot and learned a lot talking to other people. One of the main difficulties is me not having any employees. I'm doing everything on the business side to actually making candles, which I chose. It's a little scary some days because the business side is the most important side of it. It's the boring side, but you have to learn. I've learned by designing a website to taxes. Like I said, it's not just pouring candles. There's a lot that goes with it.

    You do custom orders, right? Like, someone will bring you a bottle and then specify what type of scent they want?

    Yeah! I do custom orders all the time. I have a lot of people that bring me specific bottles from a wedding anniversary, or maybe they just like that bottle. I don't do custom scents though. If someone is like, "can you mix X and Y?" I don't do that. I offer what's available. But the custom orders are always really fun. Some people will bring me containers in funky shapes, which makes it fun not to do the same thing over and over.

    I saw on your website that you are going to offer candle making workshops at some point in the future. Can you tell me a little bit about that? 

    It starts next Tuesday (March 5th) and is here at Make (MAKEbhm). It's going to consist of a maximum of 10 people per class. The first one is going to be kind of a trial run. You'll be able to pick from pre-cut bottles that are going to be available for each week of the class. And you can pick one vessel to fill around 12 ounces of wax in a variety of scents. I'll be teaching the basics, and the class will be an hour and a half on Tuesday nights. Hopefully it will be once a month or every 6 weeks.

    Well, that's it. Thank you for letting me interview you!

     

    About MAKEbhm

    I recently got the opportunity to sit down and chat with some of the creative folks at MAKEbhm, which is a group of businesses that include Alabama Sawyer, ECam and Co., Amanda Loper, and more.

    Read more →

    Alabama Sawyer's wooden credenza

    March 04, 2019

    Health Benefits of Wood Furniture

    Did you know that spending time around wooden furniture can benefit your health? Here are some of the ways:

    • It improves your emotional state
    • It increases your cognitive ability
    • It reduces your stress levels
    • It improves air quality through humidity moderation
    • It stores carbon long term - thus fighting climate change

    You might be wondering how wooden furniture can benefit a person’s health. Research does tell us that being around wood furniture produces similar health effects to spending time in nature. Moreover wood tends to elicit feelings of warmth, comfort, and relaxation. Regardless of its effects, wood has a pleasing look that helps you feel more connected to nature, and at the end of the day, who doesn't love that? 

    Read more →

    How to be Eco Friendly in the Kitchen

    February 26, 2019

    How to be Eco Friendly in the Kitchen

    At Alabama Sawyer, we want you to be as environmentally friendly as possible. Here are some tips on how to be more eco friendly in the kitchen and around the house:


  • Make your own cleaner: This one is particularly rewarding because you get to clean with your efforts to be more eco conscious. What you’ll need: vinegar, baking soda, lemon, water, dish soap, spray bottle, bowl, sponge, scrub brush, and measuring spoons. For an all purpose cleaner you’ll want to put 1 teaspoon baking soda, ½ teaspoon of dish soap, and 2 tablespoons vinegar into the spray bottle. Shake it up, then fill with warm water and shake again.
  • Select non toxic paints: Thinking about repainting? Be sure to purchase paints low in volatile organic compounds. It’s better for you and the environment.
  • Recycle & Compost: All you need for this step is a recycling bin and a composting bin. For more information on how to create your own backyard pallet composting pile, click here.
  • Purchase energy efficient appliances: If you’re in the market for any new kitchen appliances, look into energy efficient ones.
  • Eat organic & local: Kind of a no brainer but still worth mentioning.
  • Lighting: Replace incandescent bulbs with the more energy efficient LED’s, and only use those when natural lighting is inadequate.

  • recycle


    This is by no means an exhaustive list of every single eco friendly way to improve your kitchen but it’s certainly a start. How is your household eco friendly?



    Sources:

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/03/02/AR2010030202932.html

    https://www.webmd.com/food-recipes/features/8-ways-to-go-green-in-your-kitchen

    https://www.hgtv.com/design-blog/design/make-your-kitchen-greener

    https://www.apartmenttherapy.com/how-to-make-your-own-kitchen-c-108759

    Images taken from the Internet Archive: https://archive.org/ 

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    5 Classic Birmingham Businesses

    February 25, 2019

    5 Classic Birmingham Businesses

    Alabama Sawyer is practically a toddler compared to some of the more classic Birmingham businesses. In their honor, here are some of our favorite companies that have been in Birmingham for quite some time.


    1. Trilogy Leather: a leather repair & craft shop established in the 70’s by Sam Sicola and brothers Tony + Salvatore Pardi. They offer a wide variety of products from crocodile + gator hide belts to handbags and briefcases. According to their website, “the name Trilogy was chosen to signify the 3 of them.”

    Sam, Tony, and Salvatore - image taken from the Trilogy Leather website


    1. Buffalo Rock Co.: Founded in 1901 by the Lee family as an independent Pepsi bottler, Buffalo Rock even created its own grape flavored beverage in the early 80’s called Grapico. According to their website, “The mission of the Buffalo Rock Company is to be the premier provider of beverages and food products. We have 10 divisions inclusive of 2,100 employee-partners who are committed to this mission.”

    Image take from Buffalo Rock’s website


    1. Bromberg & Co. Jewelers: This family owned jewelers founded by Frederick Bromberg has been around since 1836, and has been providing its customers with the highest attention to detail in jewelry making ever since.

    1. Davis Architects: Founded in 1912, Davis Architects is the oldest still running architectural firm in Alabama. They even employed the first registered female architect in the state. According to their website, they prefer to take a client centered approach to architecture. Some of their work includes the Birmingham Crossplex, the College of Health Sciences at Samford University, the Center for the Arts at Montevallo University, ect... One of their quotes? “Every problem has a solution. As optimistic as it may sound, it is the driving force behind our work. Great design starts here.”

    Image taken from the Davis Architect website


    1. Golden Rule Barbecue: Opened in 1891, Golden Rule is the oldest continuously running restaurant in the state of Alabama.

    Image taken directly from Golden Rule’s website


    There are a lot that I didn’t mention here, so take a look at this AL.com article that I drew from to learn more about some of the longest running businesses in Alabama.


    Sources

    AL.com article: “These Alabama businesses have operated 100 years or more”

    Buffalo Rock Company Wikipedia article: “Buffalo Rock”

    Trilogy Leather website

    Buffalo Rock “About Us” website

    Bromberg’s Website

    Tommy Daspit photography website

    Golden Rule Barbecue “About” page

    Golden Rule Barbecue website

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    4 Types of Shelving Systems

    February 18, 2019

    4 Types of Shelving Systems

    The fixed bracket shelving system is also referred to as suspension shelving. Brackets may come in wood or metal and are attached directly to the wall. They typically use a series of pins that will vary in size. You'll most likely find a fixed bracket shelving system in a home interior.

    These are simple and easily fitted into the nooks and small spaces of a home. Simply put, a built in shelving system is a piece of wood placed in an opening in a wall. Can be suspended in a variety of different ways.

    This type of shelving system has internal non-visible brackets that attaches it to a wall. Basically, it looks like it’s floating when it really isn’t.

    This type of shelving system is pretty clever if you ask us. Corner shelving systems come in a range of fun styles that make your life easier by maximizing space. Can be wall mounted or placed on the floor.

    Read more →

    1stdibs to feature Alabama Sawyer

    February 07, 2019

    1stdibs to feature Alabama Sawyer

    Did you hear? 1stdibs is going to feature some Alabama Sawyer products on their site! If you’re out of the loop on what that means, 1stdibs is an online marketplace for high quality goods and products. According to their website:


    At 1stdibs, we're here to connect the world's best dealers, finest shops and most important galleries with individuals like you: the world's most sophisticated collectors, designers and curators.

    Starting with the few dealers that were hand-selected by our founder Michael Bruno at Paris's legendary antiques market, Marché Aux Puces, in 2001, we've become the global destination for those who must have 'first dibs' on treasures — from around the world — that would otherwise be inaccessible.”


    More on the history of 1stdibs: As previously mentioned, 1stdibs was created by Michael Bruno in 2001. Bruno wanted a way to share some of his nifty finds, so he created the 1stdibs website. It took a little over a decade for the site to grow into what it is today-  a premier online luxury marketplace.

    What’s more, their site includes testimonial style quotes from some pretty important people like Tom Ford-

    Tom Ford's testimonial on 1stdibs

    1stdibs: "About Us"

    Well that’s hilarious. But back to the good news that 1stdibs will be featuring some of our Alabama Sawyer products. We are very excited to be selected for this honor, and can’t wait to share what ALASAW products they will be featuring. 

    SOURCES

    1stdibs 

    Featured image: "Fashionable Woman (Unsplash)" | Wikipedia Commons

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    Alabama Sawyer @ Gumption

    February 07, 2019

    Alabama Sawyer @ Gumption

    We are so excited to announce that Leigh and Cliff will be featured speakers at the 2019 Gumption conference in Tennessee this March the 9th. The conference will include discussions and stories from southern artists whose work is intended to positively impact the future of the south.   

    THE MISSION OF THE GUMPTION CONFERENCE IS TO FOSTER CREATIVITY & HOSPITALITY IN THE AMERICAN SOUTH.

    Made South, a business whose primary goal is to celebrate southern businesses, will host the conference. Leigh and Cliff are honored to be guest speakers alongside other creative southern artists + business owners such as...


    Ashley Jones of Love Not Lost: A nonprofit organization run by Ashley Jones that photographs people living with a terminal diagnosis in order to preserve their memory and provide support to those in grief


    forBecks a Street Artist: The idea that art is for everyone is central to forBecks work, where he draws inspiration from popular culture and nostalgia


    Blake Wylie a Tin Type Photographer: Wylie creates wet plate collodion photographs in a civil war era style. The work is done by hand using plates coated with collodion, and the result is something special


    And many more! If you’re interested, here are the specifics of the event.


    WHEN: Saturday, March 9, 2019 | 9:00 AM - 4:00 PM

    WHERE: Jamison Theater inside The Factory | 230 Franklin Road, Franklin, TN

    HOW MUCH: General Admission is $99 per ticket | VIP tickets cost $179

    Read more →

    How to Polish Wood Furniture

    February 04, 2019

    How to Polish Wood Furniture

    Did you hear the news? We recently started selling our very own beeswax wood polish! 

    ALASAW Wood Polish 

    In honor of such an event, here is a “how to” guide that will give you instructions on the simple steps needed to polish your wooden furniture using our ALASAW polish.


    You’ll need to figure out what your wood piece is finished with in order to determine how exactly you’re going to polish it. If you’re at a loss and have no clue, read the manufacturer's manual. The different types of finish include varnish, wax, unsealed, or painted. If your wood has a wax finish, stick with a wax polish. If your wood has an oil finish, stick with an oil polish.”


    SUPPLIES YOU’LL NEED:

    -wood polish

    -cotton washrag (make sure it’s clean)

    -buffing cloth (make sure it’s soft)


    STEP ONE: Apply the wood polish directly onto the cotton washrag and begin wiping it into the wood in the direction of the grain (or with the grain). If you need to apply anymore polish then feel free to add another layer.


    STEP TWO: Use your buffing cloth to remove any excess wood polish.


    And that’s basically it. Easy enough, right? Click on the sources below for more detailed instructions and information.


    SOURCES

    How to Polish and Clean Wood Furniture

    How to Polish and Shine Wood Furniture

    Read more →

    Things You Didn't Know You Could Compost

    January 28, 2019

    Things You Didn't Know You Could Compost

    If you’re at all interested in gardening and composting, then check out our Noaway Counter Top Compost Bin, and read on to learn about composting materials you might not have known about: 

    • Tea bags + Tea Leaves
    • Coffee Grounds + Coffee Filters
    • Egg Shells
    • Banana Peels 
    • Veggie Scraps 
    • Stale Cereal 
    • Damp Paper Towels 
    • Burnt Toast
    • Wine Corks
    • Old Tofu
    • Seaweed
    • Lint
    • Hair
    • Nail Clippings
    • You 

    No, you didn’t misread that last one. I know confronting your mortality isn’t exactly fun, but if environmentalism is important to you then consider a green burial. According to Wikipedia a green or natural burial is, “interment of the body of a dead person in the soil in a manner that does not inhibit decomposition but allows the body to recycle naturally. It is an alternative to other contemporary Western burial methods and funerary customs.”


    There are several reasons one might consider a green burial over a traditional Western one, one is lowered cost, and another is environmental friendliness due to the absence of embalming fluids. That said, only you can decide what to do with your body after you’re gone.

     


    Sources:

    https://www.onecrazyhouse.com/30-things-you-can-compost/

    Images taken from the Internet Archive, and this website on green burials.

    Featured image Man playing chess with grim reaper taken from the Library of Congress. 

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    Interior Design Considerations that Facilitate Focus

    January 25, 2019

    Interior Design Considerations that Facilitate Focus

    First thing's first. Let's talk about the psychology of color, specifically the colors that tend to facilitate focus & concentration. Green tends to promote concentration and focus while also playing into aspects of biophilic design. Blue is incredibly calming, which means using it in your office or home would promote calm and aid concentration.

    Read more about color psychology here. Now, on to actual design elements. One important consideration is space. Do you want the area to be more open to encourage collaborative discussion, or closed off to ensure individual work gets done?

    According to InteriorArchitects.com - in open office spaces "employees experience more uncontrolled interactions, higher levels of stress, and lower levels of concentration and motivation." Clearly there is a need for balance between collaboration and individual work that promotes concentration and productivity. Consider creating "focus areas" - places where people can work independently, and make the rest of the space more open to encourage collaboration and effective group work. 

    Another possibility is to set up the space similar to a library layout, that is, long conference tables (see image below) that serve as collaborative meeting spaces, (but don't have to if an employee would prefer to work individually.)

    Live Edge Claro Walnut Conference Table With AV Equipment Installed

    Alabama Sawyer Furniture

    There are a ton of different ways to approach the maximization of concentration and focus in interior design elements, and these are just a few, so be sure to check out our sources and further reading section!

    Sources & Further Reading

    Source: Curbed

    Source: Focus on Focus | Interior Architect 

    Read more →