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 astronomy 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 bug repellent built in shelving butcher blocks candles Captain America carbon carbon sequestration 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 custom table height cutting board cutting board oil David Baker Architects decomposition Dering Hall differences in dish soap DIY Earth Earth Day Earth Overshoot Day Earthrise ECam and Co. eco friendly entertainment environmental environmental glossary environmental holiday Etsy Famous in AL favorites fixed bracket shelving floating shelving focus Food52 Fossil Fools Day fruit fly fruit fly trap gas tax gift gift guide giveaway glass recycling glossary Golden Rule Barbecue Google Google Reviews Goop Goop Exclusive goopGIFT green burial green products Grove Collaborative Gulf State Park Gulf State Park shipment Gumption handmade health benefits Hemlock Miyake Bench history of AL holiday holiday gift guide holidays home essentials 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 Lanett Credenza Leigh Leigh Spencer link list longest running Made South magnolia MAKEbhm Michael Bruno Milwaukee mineral oil miyake miyake bench Montpelier mosquitoes 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 Pale Blue Dot pallet pallet compost pile pecan PeeWee Herman personal story Petite Noaway Counter Top Compost Bin photography plants plastic wrap podcast pop up shop PSA public service announcement recycle recycling Red Mountain Park red oak Remodelista reviews round sunrise table science shelving shipment Sloss Furnace smart phones soap software South Jordan Spiderman Spring Break 2019 sputnik table standard table height sustainable sweepstakes table height table top The Blue Marble The Boogie Tom Ford tray Trilogy Leather urban wood utensil holder walnut walnut wine rack WBHM weedkiller white oak white oak host stand Wide Plank on Legacy Base Wide Plank Table on Sunrise Base wine rack Wine X Wine Rack wood wood furniture wood furniture polish wood polish wood scented wooden cutting board Workshops Inc

3 Eco Friendly Ways To Repel Mosquitoes

June 17, 2019

3 Eco Friendly Ways To Repel Mosquitoes

It’s summer in Alabama, which means your body is gonna turn into a feeding ground for mosquitoes every time you walk outside. Of course you could always use that name brand bug repellent that seems to work great, but isn’t so great for the environment. According to a Grist.com article titled The green take on insect repellents and sunscreens, bug repellent contains DEET, which is,


persistent environmental contaminant that breaks down slowly in soil. A recent U.S. Geological Survey report on water contaminants listed DEET as one of the compounds most frequently found in the nation’s streams. The U.S. EPA regards DEET as ‘slightly toxic’ to birds, fish, and aquatic invertebrates


Yikes. The next question would be ‘What are some eco friendly ways to keep bugs from feasting on my flesh without using something that’s terrible for the environment?’ For your convenience, here’s a list of some quick and easy ways to stay bug free and eco friendly this summer.


  1. Wear long sleeves:

I know this isn’t ideal if you live somewhere incredibly hot, but consider light colored long sleeve sweat wicking shirts paired with breathable pants. Why light colored? Darker colors tend to attract mosquitoes according to the aforementioned Grist.com article. I’m a big advocate for this solution since it doesn’t involve putting chemicals on the skin.


  1. Eco friendly bug repellents:

There are plenty of these on the market, here are two you should definitely check out.


-Repel Lemon Eucalyptus Insect Repellent

-Kinven Mosquito Repellent Spray for Kids & Adults with Natural Oils


(Source: 13 Best Natural Bug Repellents in 2019)

 

  1. Wear scents that mosquitoes hate:

This is an interesting solution that not many people think of when trying to repel bugs. Here are just two scents that mosquitoes don’t like.


-Lavender

-Rosemary


(Source: 10 Scents That Repel Mosquitos)



Sources & Further Reading

McRandle, P.W., and Molly Rauch. “The Green Take on Insect Repellents and Sunscreens.” Grist, Grist, 10 Oct. 2013, grist.org/article/a-fly-in-the-ointment/.


Baardsen, Dana, et al. “Insects Will Be Too Cool for You After You Use Any of These Natural Bug Repellents.” Best Products, 12 Mar. 2019, www.bestproducts.com/parenting/kids/g1387/natural-bug-repellent/.


“10 Scents That Repel Mosquitoes.” Mosquito Magnet®, www.mosquitomagnet.com/articles/10-scents-that-repel-mosquitoes.

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We Love Grove Collaborative!

June 10, 2019

We Love Grove Collaborative!

If you’re reading this, it seems likely that you have an interest in sustainable products. If you are interested, you’ve come to the right place. We recommend Grove Collaborative for all things sustainable! They have a great selection of clean, natural, safe, and environmentally friendly hand soaps, bathroom cleaners, trashbags, lip balm, and much much more! The following quote is taken directly from Grove Collaborative’s About page:


“Grove started as an idea between three friends talking in a spare bedroom in San Francisco: what if it was easy to find healthier home essentials? The belief that what we bring into our homes contributes to that homey, cozy feel prompted them to try to make their idea a reality. Welcome to Grove. We’re here to help you create your best version of home with ease and enjoyment.”   


Another great thing about this business is the ‘Grove standard’, which simply means that Grove Collaborative assures its products will be, “healthy, effective, eco-friendly, and affordable.” Better yet, Grove Collaborative offers completely customizable orders that lets you decide when and how often shipments will be made, so you never have to run out of your favorite products! (Source: Grove Collaborative FAQ) An additional perk is that joining is free, and you only have to pay for products you purchase. In other words, there is no fee required to join. (Source: Grove Collaborative FAQ)


My favorite Grove Collaborative product? ‘SmartyPits’ Aluminum Free Prebiotic Deodorant is a no brainer for someone who gets rashes from regular deodorant. So what are you waiting for? Go check out their website!


Sources & Further Reading


Featured Image pulled from the Incirlik Air Base - MLA citation of featured image follows:


Gradishar, Kali. “Earth Day a Reminder to Protect Environment.” Incirlik Air Base, 18 Apr. 2012, www.incirlik.af.mil/News/Article-Display/Article/301150/earth-day-a-reminder-to-protect-environment/.

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June 03, 2019

Alabama Sawyer on Food52

If you haven’t seen what Alabama Sawyer is selling over on Food52, I’d strongly recommend you check it out. Some of our products on Food52 are only available through their website, so be sure to check us out over there! What’s Food52 you ask? As the name suggests, Food52 is a place for all things food, kitchen, and home maintenance related.


It’s a resource for all kinds of recipes - I especially like the recipe for vegan chocolate chip cookies. It’s also a blog that gives a variety of home maintenance tips: like their useful piece on fridge cleaning. It’s a shop where consumers can browse some of the coolest kitchen gear imaginable: from silicon straws, to this modular cheese tower grater, which sounds like something straight out of Star Trek:

 

the tranya is right next to the modular cheese tower grater!”


All Star Trek silliness aside, we are pleased to announce that Alabama Sawyer is selling some really great products over there, like this Food52 exclusive walnut bread box:

 

Walnut Bread Box | Alabama Sawyer on Food52


If you’re interested in seeing other Alabama Sawyer products on their website, check out this screenshot to get a better idea of the different products we are selling through Food52:

 

Alabama Sawyer on Food52


If you’re wondering why you haven’t seen some of these products on our website, that’s because some are Food52 exclusives. That’s right, some of these products are available exclusively through Food52. So go check it out! And while you’re over there, you may as well browse some of their recipes or home maintenance advice.


Sources & Further Reading


“Spock, Kirk and the Enterprise, 1968.” Wikipedia Commons, 12 Jan. 1986, en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Star_Trek:_The_Original_Series#/media/File:Leonard_Nimoy_William_Shatner_Star_Trek_1968.JPG.


“Cliff Spencer for Alasaw.” Food52, food52.com/shop/merchants/cliff-spencer-for-alasaw.


“Food Community, Recipes, Kitchen‌ & Home Products, Cooking Contests.” Food52, food52.com/.

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May 30, 2019

The Spring Home Refresh Giveaway | You Could Win Our Wine Rack!

Alabama Sawyer is participating in The Spring Home Refresh Giveaway where you could enter to win one of our wine racks in walnut. To enter, simply follow the link and enter the information requested, and you're all set! You may have noticed that there are a few other businesses who are participating in the giveaway. Those businesses are...

VoiceBrew - A business whose goal is to make Alexa more user friendly and easy to use. I don't use Alexa myself, but I've heard and read the stories of Alexa messing up and accidentally ordering an item that the user never requested. As such, I love the idea of this company.     

Mishkalo Wedding Registry - This business wants to give people memorable and thoughtful wedding gifts, which is why they allow you to register to get the happy couple custom portraits/ custom paintings instead of standard kitchenware. If you browse the artists sample products, you'll find some really gorgeous artwork.  

Embla - This company uses 3D printing and 100% natural bees wax to create very beautiful and geometrically shaped candles. Personally, I'm a fan of their teal pentagonal candle.

iTechDeals - A company that lets you find great deals on all types of technology. Basically, they give techie consumers a ton of different options for a variety of products. This type of website is actually a blessing for someone who's in the market for a new laptop. 

 

We expect and hope to do more giveaways like these, so let us know if you're interested in them! 

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May 29, 2019

Our Alabama Sawyer Google Reviews

Type 'Alabama Sawyer' in Google's search bar and you'll find that our store has three 5-star reviews.
Two of those reviews include written descriptions: 

 

--

Another review reads: "I purchased a beautiful desk from Alabama Sawyer and I love it. It's extraordinarily well designed and constructed, and I will have it for years."

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Our Etsy Product Reviews

May 22, 2019

Our Etsy Product Reviews

If you head over to Alabama Sawyer's Etsy page, you'll see that we have a total of thirty two 5-star reviews. Some of those reviews include written descriptions of why the customer liked our product, and we'd like to share some of those reviews with you.

Noaway Countertop Compost Bin

"Beautifully made, with invisible seams and a gorgeous smooth finish. Just the right depth to hold a few days' worth of kitchen scraps, too, before bringing it all out to the compost pile."

"A work of art sits on my countertop. Hidden inside? Eco-friendly decomposition."

"Impeccable design and function. Truly beautiful piece to adorn your countertop and make composting sleek and exciting! Wonderful craftmanship. Purchasing another as a gift! 5 Stars!!"

All-Natural Wood Polish & Furniture Wax

"Great accessory to maintain the beauty of the natural wood grain."

"I have already applied this all-natural wood polish to several of my wood items. It enhances the beautiful wood grain, without leaving a sticky residue. My oldest daughter has allergies and this wood polish does not affect her at all. I highly recommend this product."

"I love this stuff it brought my table back to life and it even worked great on my boots"

What about some of our less reviewed products, like our Breakfast in Bed Tray?

Breakfast in Bed Tray

These are just a handful of some of our Etsy reviews! Click to read some of our other kind reviews

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Famous in AL: Sloss Furnace

May 15, 2019

Famous in AL: Sloss Furnace

Please note that “Famous in AL” is a series of blog posts on famous historical Alabama sites for the purpose of celebrating the culture and history found in our own state.


Let’s go back to 2008. Picture fifth grade me lying in bed with the chicken pox, instead of sitting on a school bus headed to Sloss Furnace for a field trip. So after courageously lying in bed for a week, I recovered and reluctantly went back to school. I distinctly remember the small iron square my teacher handed me, evidently my classmates teamed up to make a piece with my initials. Confused? Part of the guided tour at Sloss involves students making their own cast iron art.


Now 23 year old me has an excuse to actually go on a self guided tour through Sloss, which means no cast iron art unfortunately. What’s the excuse? Alabama Sawyer table bases are poured at Sloss Furnace. That’s the perfect excuse! But before that, here is a short blurb on the history of Sloss Furnaces:

History

"Colonel James Withers Sloss was one of the founders of Birmingham, helping to promote railroad development in Jones Valley, Alabama and participating in the Pratt Coke and Coal Company, one of the new city's first manufacturers. In 1881 he formed his own company, the Sloss Furnace Company, and began construction of Birmingham's first blast furnace on 50 acres (202,000 m²) of land donated by the Elyton Land Company for industrial development. The engineer in charge of construction was Harry Hargreaves, a former student of English inventor Thomas Whitwell. The two Whitwell-type furnaces were 60 feet (18 m) tall and 18 feet (5.4 m) in diameter. The first blast was initiated in April 1882. The facility produced 24,000 tons of high quality iron during its first year of operation. Sloss iron won a bronze medal at the Southern Exposition held in 1883 at Loiusville, Kentucky.

In 1886 Sloss retired and sold the company to a group of investors who reorganized it in 1899 as the Sloss-Sheffield Steel and Iron Company. The group regularly utilized forced mainly African-American convict-laborers that were purchased in collusion with local sheriffs in a system called peonage. Sheriffs would arrest mainly African-American men under often bogus charges of “vagrancy” and the Sloss company would purchase these men and work them as slaves. This allowed slavery to continue after the Civil War and amassed great wealth for Sloss.

New blowers were installed in 1902, new boilers in 1906 and 1914 and the furnaces completely rebuilt with modern equipment between 1927 and 1929. In 1909 James Pickering Dovel had become the superintendent of construction. For the next 21 years, Sloss was Dovel's workshop for invention. He developed gas cleaning equipment, modified the design of the furnaces, and improved the linings of the furnaces. In all, some 17 patents are credited to Dovel. Sloss's No. 2 Furnace, rebuilt in 1927, included many of these inventions, earning Dovel and Sloss a national reputation for innovation. Through this aggressive campaign of modernization and expansion, including furnace and mining and quarrying operations all around Jefferson County, Sloss-Sheffield became the second largest seller of pig-iron in the district and among the largest in the world. During this period the company built 48 small cottages for black workers near the downtown furnace — a community that became known as "Sloss Quarters" or just "the quarters".

In 1952, the Sloss Furnaces were acquired by the U.S. Pipe and Foundry Company, and sold nearly two decades later in 1969 to the Jim Walter Corp. The Birmingham area had been suffering from a serious air pollution problem during the 1950s and 1960s due to the iron and steel industry there, and Federal legislation such as the U.S. Clean Air Act encouraged the closure of older and out-of-date smelting works. Also, by the early 1960s, higher-yielding brown ores from other regions were feeding the blast furnaces.

The Jim Walter company closed the furnaces two years later, and then donated the property to the Alabama State Fair Authority for possible development as a museum of industry. The authority determined that redevelopment was not feasible and made plans to demolish the furnaces. Local preservationists formed the Sloss Furnace Association to lobby for preservation of this site, which is of central importance to the history of Birmingham. In 1976, the site was documented for the Historic American Engineering Record and its historic significance was detailed in a study commissioned by the city. Birmingham voters approved a $3.3 million bond issue in 1977 to preserve the site. This money went towards stabilization of the main structures and the construction of a visitors' center and the establishment of a metal arts program. The Sloss Furnaces site became a National Historic Landmark in 1981, and opened to the public as the nation's first and only 20th century blast furnace site preserved as a museum on Labor Day weekend, 1983.

In February 2009 Sloss became the new home of the SLSF 4018 steam locomotive, which was relocated from Birmingham's Fair Park." (Source: Sloss Furnaces Wikipedia)

Self Guided Tour

Now that you know all of that history, I bet you're interested in actually going there. So without further ado, here are some of the pictures I took during my self guided tour at Sloss. Construction prevented me from taking the normal tour path, so I got to see some pretty interesting stuff.

Be sure to follow @sloss_furnaces and @slossmetalarts on Instagram! 

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What Is ... Carbon Sequestration?

May 08, 2019

What Is ... Carbon Sequestration?

What is carbon sequestration?

"the long-term storage of carbon in plantssoils, geologic formations, and the ocean. Carbon sequestration occurs both naturally and as a result of anthropogenic activities and typically refers to the storage of carbon that has the immediate potential to become carbon dioxide gas. In response to growing concerns about climate change resulting from increased carbon dioxide concentrations in the atmosphere, considerable interest has been drawn to the possibility of increasing the rate of carbon sequestration through changes in land use and forestry and also through geoengineering techniques such as carbon capture and storage." (Source: Carbon Sequestration | Encyclopedia Britannica)

Solid wood furniture, and trees in general tend to store carbon very well in. In fact, "An important function of trees and forests both within and outside of urban areas is carbon sequestration. Nowak and Crane (2002) have estimated that urban trees in the U.S. hold about 774 million tons of carbon ... the importance of tree biomass carbon in urban areas is expected to increase over the coming decades, because the urbanized area is expected to increase notably in the U.S. (Nowak and Walton 2005)." (Source: Carbon Sequestration In Solid Wood Products From Urban Forests | Dovetail Partners Inc.)

As you may very well know, Alabama Sawyer gets a large percent of wood from the urban forests of Alabama. The exciting part of this is that use of urban wood helps diminish the harmful effect of the buildup of greenhouse gases through long term carbon sequestration. 

But why is using urban wood so important in all of this? Well, when urban trees come down, they typically become a waste removal problem. In the forest, a tree coming down isn't much a problem since released carbon just goes back into the carbon cycle. In an urban setting, however, released carbon from a downed tree doesn't really go back into the carbon cycle in the same way. This is especially true if the tree goes to rot in a landfill. Thus, making solid wood furniture from urban wood is a great way to ensure that the wood continues to store that carbon in the long term.   

Sources Cited

Selin, Noelle Eckley. “Carbon Sequestration.” Encyclopædia Britannica, Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc., 16 Jan. 2019, www.britannica.com/technology/carbon-sequestration.

Bratkovich, Steve, and Sam Sherrill. “Carbon Sequestration in Wood Products, Urban Forests.” Dovetail Report: Carbon Sequestration in Wood Products, Urban Forests, Dovetail Partners Inc., 19 July 2011, www.dovetailinc.org/reports/Carbon+Sequestration+in+Wood+Products%2C+Urban+Forests_n258?prefix=%2Freports.

“The Carbon Cycle.” The Carbon Cycle | UCAR Center for Science Education, 2007, scied.ucar.edu/carbon-cycle.

Hardin, LeJean, and Jaime Payne. “Schematic Showing Both Terrestrial and Geological Sequestration of Carbon Dioxide Emissions from a Biomass or Fossil Fuel Power Station.” Wikipedia Commons, 10 July 2009, commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Carbon_sequestration-2009-10-07.svg.

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Standard Table Heights

May 01, 2019

Standard Table Heights

There are standard table top heights, then there are custom table heights. The height of a custom table will vary depending on table function, user height, chair height, and several other factors. This blog post aims to explore how you might pick a custom table height - and then give a list of standard table heights. 

How Do I Measure Table Height?

Before we get into the nitty gritty, let's discuss how to measure table height in the first place. According to a Parotas blog post, "Standard table height measurements are taken from the floor to the top of the table or counter. This means you need to consider a lower chair height if you have a thick table top or overhanging counter." (Source: Parotas, "A Guide To Standard Table & Chair Heights")

Chair Height

Speaking of chairs, we'd advise a table height that allows for adequate leg room and space to slide the chair underneath the table. Generally, chair heights range from 17-19 inches. We recommend at least 10 inches between chair seat and table top. These discussions should beg the question, 'how do I measure the height of a chair?'

According to the Parotas blog post, "Standard chair heights are measured from the chair legs to the top of the seat surface. You do not include the height of the chair back or armrests in your measurements, unless you plan to slide chairs fully under the table or counter. If you are choosing chairs with armrests, allow around 7 inches (18cm) between the armrest and the underside of your table" (Source: Parotas, "A Guide To Standard Table & Chair Heights")

Elbow space is another important consideration that's very similar to the need for adequate leg room. No one likes using a table that's too tall to rest your elbows on. On the other hand, no one likes jamming their legs under a table because it's way too small. 

User Height

This is a pretty big consideration honestly. How tall or short are the users? If the users are really tall, consider a taller than average table top. The same goes for shorter users, who may require a shorter than average table height. These questions should definitely factor into the process of picking a table height. 

Basically, planning is your best friend when it comes to choosing a custom table height.

Standard Table Top Heights

That said, here are the standard heights of dining tables, counters, coffee tables, and bar tables. Big thanks to Leigh for making the graphics! (Please note: each of the pieces you see below is an Alabama Sawyer table. Find one on our website.)

Wide Plank on Legacy Base | Alabama Sawyer

Lanett Credenza | Alabama Sawyer

Orchard Table in Red Oak | Alabama Sawyer

Wide Plank Table on Sunrise Base | Alabama Sawyer

 

SOURCES

“Empty Table.” PublicDomainPictures.net, www.publicdomainpictures.net/en/view-image.php?image=271485&picture=empty-table.

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Butcher Block Counter Tops

April 30, 2019

Butcher Block Counter Tops

Remodelista recently published a blog titled, "Remodeling 101: All About Butcher Block Countertops." 

If you're out of the know, butcher blocks are made from straight pieces of wood glued together. They tend to be much sturdier than regular cutting boards or counter tops of other materials/ makes. Read more about butcher blocks on Remodelista's blog post! Image courtesy of the Wikipedia Commons.

Sources Cited

Hall, Janet. “Remodeling 101: All About Butcher Block Countertops.” Remodelista, Remodelista, 15 Mar. 2019, www.remodelista.com/posts/remodeling-101-butcher-block-kitchen-countertops/?utm_source=Weekly%2BKitchen%2B&%2BBath%2BPosts%2Bfrom%2BRemodelista%2B-%2B03%2F18%2F2019&utm_campaign=3b359d750e&utm_medium=email.

Crider, Anthony. “Butcher's Block.” Wikipedia Commons, 23 Aug. 2009, commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Butcher%27s_block.jpg.

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Why is it hard to recycle glass in AL?

April 29, 2019

Why is it hard to recycle glass in AL?

Why is it so difficult to find places in Alabama that will recycle glass? I’m definitely not the first person to ask. On the r/Birmingham subreddit, one user asks, “Every recycling plant in Birmingham that I've heard of doesn't seem to accept glass for some reason. I think it's simply because they don't have enough room for it?” A few comments pointed out the high expense associated with glass recycling, all for a non existent market. Similarly, The Alabama Environmental Council writes, “Glass is very difficult to recycle in Alabama due to a lack of end-users and processors.

Alabama Environmental Council | Glass 

That raises the question, where can I recycle glass in Alabama? Thankfully, The Alabama Environmental Council has the answers you need. Well, maybe not all the answers. None of this really addresses why Alabama lacks a good glass recycling program, and why some cities like Santa Monica have excellent glass recycling programs. Speaking of Santa Monica’s glass recycling program, it’s awesome. Seriously. Read more about SM’s recycling collection program, and consider how you could start your own glass recycling business.  

 

SOURCES

Reddit | Where to recycle glass?

MaxPixel.net | Recycling Bottle Jars Bottles Recycle Glass

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Earth Day

April 22, 2019

Earth Day

As you may or may not know, today (April 22nd) is Earth Day! If you've been living under a rock, Earth Day is easily the most well known environmental holiday in the world. The leaders of Earth Day aim to resolve problems related to climate change, end plastic pollution, and protect endangered species (Source: Earth Day Website)

Earth Day Flags

Earth Day was created in 1970 by John McConnell, who also made some of the more famous flag designs for the holiday. The image on the top was the first proposed Earth Day flag design, while the image on the bottom is the latest proposed flag design.

 

first Earth Day flag

 

most recent Earth Day flag

 

History of Earth Day

During the 70's, very few corporations or individuals cared about their carbon output. Then, in 1962 the book Silent Spring was published. Thankfully, that was the beginning of more environmental awareness and concern. For the most part, Earth Day helped achieve bipartisan consensus in a way few issues had. But today, there is a strong sense of urgency when it comes to damage done by climate change. The deadline - 2035 - is fast approaching. What will you do to help?

 

SOURCES & FURTHER READING

Earth Day | History

EarthDay.org

Wikipedia | Flag of Earth 

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The Black Marble

April 22, 2019

3 Amazing NASA Photos of Earth

Due to US copyright laws, NASA photographs actually belong in the public domain. Who knew? I figured I’d take advantage of that to discuss some of the most amazing photos NASA has ever taken of our planet. A quick note about the series of bolded numbers and letters following the title of each photo in this post: that is the official NASA designation for that image.

 

The Blue Marble (AS17-148-22727)

1. The Blue Marble (AS17-148-22727)

This is easily the most famous photo NASA has ever taken, and it’s probably the most widely reproduced and distributed. It was taken December 7, 1972 by someone on the Apollo 17 flight, although evidence suggests that Jack Schmitt was the photographer. Interestingly enough, it was an unscheduled & unplanned photo, which makes the image something of a ‘stolen moment’. If you think The Blue Marble is beautiful, you might be interested in the subsequent Blue Marble images. (Source: Wikipedia, "The Blue Marble)

 

Earthrise (AS08-14-2383)

2. Earthrise (AS08-14-2383)

This spectacular image has been described as, "the most influential environmental photograph ever taken." It was taken December 24, 1968 by William Anders on the Apollo 8 mission. Like The Blue Marble, Earthrise was actually unplanned according to a transcript from the conversation that occurred when the photo was taken:

"Anders: Oh my God! Look at that picture over there! There's the Earth coming up. Wow, that's pretty.
Borman: Hey, don't take that, it's not scheduled. (joking)
Anders: (laughs) You got a color film, Jim? Hand me that roll of color quick, would you...
Lovell: Oh man, that's great!" (Source: Wikipedia, "Earthrise")

 

Pale Blue Dot

 3. Pale Blue Dot

What makes Pale Blue Dot special is the almost barely perceivable Earth sitting in the middle of a sun beam. Earth is so small that it takes up less than a pixel in the entire image. Talk about putting things in perspective. It was taken February 14, 1990 by the Voyager 1 space probe at the request of astronomer Carl Sagan. (Source: Wikipedia, "Pale Blue Dot")

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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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