Santa might be stopping by!


Germany Christmas Markets - Dresden via GCM-ORG-UKWith Christmas less than two weeks away, the gift buying imperative is upon us.  This year I have decided to try to purchase Christmas gifts which are produced by individual American makers.  A great place to find such gifts are the myriad of holiday markets in America. The Germans are also big fans of Christmas markets and have been for more than a few years. The Striezelmarkt pictured above has been held in the northern German city of Dresden since 1434.

Next weekend I plan on attending the Renegade Craft Fair at Magnuson Park’s Hangar 30.  More than 175 local makers will be hawking their wares.  If you attend you can do more than buy handmade gifts; you can participate in hands-on workshops and gorge yourself on tasty treats from local vendors. What’s not to like?

I couldn’t wait for the Renegade Craft Fair, so last weekend I attended the Urban Craft Uprising at Seattle Center.  There were a ton of great gifts on offer from lots of makers from Portland and Seattle.  I plan on doing a load of posts on all the makers I met last weekend, but I wanted to let you know about the two firms I discovered that simply have to be on your gift buying list for this year.

great & small

Great & Small

Great & Small is a firm from Portland, Oregon that makes simply amazing handmade, hand painted, utterly original works of art depicting various members of the animal kingdom.

panda

I got myself a narwhale at the Urban Craft Uprising.

narwhale

These Great & Small guys really have a sense of humor.  Don’t believe me? Well check out their KISS Panda Band series featuring Gene Simmons Panda,

Gene Simmons panda

Paul Stanley Panda,

Paul Standley Panda

and Peter Criss Panda.

Peter Criss Panda

You can almost hear the strains of “Rock and Roll All Nite” just looking at these pandas!   Great & Small will be in attendance at the Crafty Wonderland in Portland, Dec 13-15.

careful it bites

Careful It Bites

If you are looking for really whimsical stuffed animals, look no further than Careful It Bites.  Kelice Penney is the amazing seamstress that sews the delightful collection of Careful It Bites animals in Seattle.  My favorites of Kelice’s creations are her Woolly Yetis,

woolly-yeti-3

her Catballs,

catballs-scene-1

and her hilarious Flasher Bat.

flasher-bat-1

So rather than shopping at the mall this year for gifts made God knows where, with God knows what, by God knows who, buy gifts made by your neighbors in Seattle, Portland or wherever else in this wonderful country you happen to live.  By purchasing gifts made by members of our extended American family, we can put money back into our communities and be able to give unique wonderful presents in the bargain.

Now get shopping!

 

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The Festive Period is officially underway!


presents pictures

If you live in England, the “Festive Period” is generally thought of as the period of time between Christmas and New Years.  But I tend to think of the entire month of December as the Festive Period and my Festive Period got underway last week with the Gray Magazine Holiday party at Design Within Reach, a wonderful furniture firm in Seattle where I live.  By the way, Design Within Reach is currently having a great sale on the iconic Herman Miller Chair; the Herman Miller Chair Company has been making its chairs in Zeeland, Michigan for over a century.  I got invited to the Gray party because I have done a few guest posts on their blog in the past.  Gray put on a delicious spread of nosh and while at the party I met a host of wonderful makers making great stuff for the home: Nick of Urban Hardwoods, Ross of Surface Theory, David of Seattle Stair and Design and Tammy of Savvy Cabinetry by Design.  Over the next few weeks, I will be featuring each of these firms on this blog or on the blog associated with my Homerica website, “Stories of Home“.  And beginning tomorrow, look for a series of posts suggesting great presents for Christmas made by members of our extended American family.

 

Posted in american made, Furniture, Made in America, made in usa, Seattle, Washington State Products, Website | Leave a comment

American brands, delivered to your phone!


 

Bezar-Launch-01 (1)

I’m convinced that curated ecommerce sites are going to be instrumental in helping to sustain and grow American made products, especially products made by smaller makers.  A case in point is BEZAR, the brainchild of Brad Shellhammer.  I can’t even remember how I got signed up for my daily emails from BEZAR, but each day they arrive in my inbox.  BEZAR doesn’t exclusively offer products made by members of our extended American family, but lots of the products on BEZAR are American made.  With BEZAR, you sometimes have to “strike while the iron’s hot” since products do seem to disappear from BEZAR from time to time.  One of BEZAR’s Holiday Gift Collections is titled “Merica” and all the gifts in that collection are made by Americans.  Here are some of my favorite American finds from BEZAR.

Anderson Design Group

Nathan Anderson and his colleagues at Anderson Design Group in Nashville, Tennessee make some of the most beautiful posters, coffee table books and cards I have ever seen.  All their products are printed in Nashville and I am gaga over their National Park posters.  They are simply stunning.  My three favorite Anderson Design Group National Park posters are Arches,

ASA_ArchesNP2_popup

Bryce Canyon,

ASA_Bryce_QueensGarden_popup (1)

and Bad Lands.

ASA-NP-Badlands_popup

Broderpress

Broderpress is the brainchild of artist and printmaker Shannon Broder. Since 2009, Shannon has been making amazing animal pillows.  Shannon starts by hand silkscreening her animal designs onto American sourced fabric using water based non-toxic ink.  Shannon does all the work to create her wonderful animal pillows in Brooklyn, NY!  My three favorite Broderpress pillows are the Elephant,

broderpress-elephant-pillow-square

the Manatee,

broderpress-manatee-pillow-1

and the Zebra.

broderpress-zebra-pillow-1

I am buying my Christmas tree this week, and plan on ordering several of Shannon’s amazing ornaments for the tree!

bunny-2

moose-2

octopus-2

Gneiss Spice

If you want your spices at hand when whipping up your favorite recipe, Gneiss Spice is for you.  Since 2013 Beth and two of her comrades have been making the coolest spice jars you can imagine.  The spice jars have magnetic lids so you can keep them out on the front of your refrigerator.  While the lids and racks are made in Maine, Beth has not been able to find an American glass manufacturer for the jars themselves.  But she is working on finding a domestic manufacturer in the near future.  Gneiss Spice produces several themed spice collections for those that cook predominately one type of cuisine.  Are you partial to Phad Thai?  Then the Gneiss Thai Spice kit is for you.

Thai spices

Do you live to barbecue?  Then the Grilling Seasoning Kit is for you.

grilling spices

I already have my spices, so I plan on purchasing a DIY kit.

DIY spice kit

I am so thankful that I found out about BEZAR and the many American brands that are featured on the site.  I urge you to sign up for the BEZAR daily emails so you can always be seeing new American products that you can purchase for your self and as gifts for your friends and family in this festive period.

Now get shopping!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Way to go Nike!


10185848

I was in need of some new cotton crew socks, so I dropped into my local Fred Meyer and beelined it to the sock section.  Imagine my glee at finding a nice package of very reasonably priced Nike Crew socks like those pictured above that are made by members of our extended American family.  The socks are incredibly soft and very warm even though they are made mostly out of cotton.

So if you are looking for crew socks for yourself or for Christmas stocking stuffers for Grandfather Ned or anyone else in the family, make sure to pick up some great American made Nike socks!

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One old favorite, two new friends


three_friends_by_wolfwings9-d55ua4e

I recently made a few purchases for the home and of course made sure that the products I was buying were made by members of our extended American family.

The Old Friend: Libman

When I began blogging more than four years ago about American made products, one of the first posts I wrote was about Libman.  Libman has been around for a long time and is always my go to source of anything having to do with cleaning in the home.  I needed a system for cleaning hardwood floors and bought three Libman products to get the job done.  First, I removed the big debris with a stylish Libman broom.

0003217_libman-precision-angle-broom-with-dustpan

 

Once the big stuff is up, I get rid of the floor dust with the Libman Freedom Floor Duster.

Libman freedom floor duster

The Freedom Floor Duster uses a removable duster head can be tossed in the washer rather than disposable sheets.  Nice.

Finally, for a good wash of the hardwoods, I finish with a Libman Wet & Dry Microfiber Mop.

Libman Wet&Dry Microfiber Mop

One could I suppose dust with the Microfiber Mop, and then wet it for the final cleaning effort.  But I like having different Libman cleaning implements for different phases of the hardwood floor cleaning process.  The Microfiber Mop head can be cleaned up in the Washer like the Freedom Floor duster.

I also got a Libman Bowl Brush & Caddy, but the less said about the use for that product the better.

Libman bowl brush and caddy

First New Friend: Veratex

I fancied a new shower curtain, so I went to Bed Bath and Beyond and was introduced to the Veratex Soho Linen Shower Curtain.  Talk about elegant!

veratex soho linen shower

Veratex sells a lot of products on their website, but I am not sure what percentage are made in the States.  I plan to follow-up with the firm to update you on what other Veratex products are made by Americans for Americans.

Second New Fried: Spectrum

I can’t vouch for the American bona fides for all of Spectrum’s products, but the Wall Mount Paper Towel Holder I bought was made by members of our extended American family.

spectrum papertowl holder

So if you find yourself in need of some products for the home, consider following my lead and buying products made by Americans.  If you want to get a really good listing of products for the home-made by Americans, please visit my new Homerica website.

 

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Ten! Hut!


sword & Plough

I recently came across an amazing American firm that I felt compelled to tell you about.  Sword & Plough is the brain child of two American sisters, Betsy and Emily.  Born into a military family, Betsy and Emily grew up at West Point.  Emily attended Middlebury College, where she was the only ROTC cadet on a campus of 2,450; Emily’s ROTC meetings were notoriously short.  After her sophomore year at college, Emily attended the U.S. Army Airborne School and eventually served as an officer in the U.S. Army.

Sword & Plough ladies

During her time in the Army, Emily began to become aware of the plight of U.S. military personnel upon entering the civilian job market after they had left military service.  An idea began to form in Emily’s mind, in between figuring out the proper placement of anti-personnel mines and the ins and outs of driving a tank.  What if my sis and I could create a business that would provide middle class jobs for our comrades leaving the service who would create great stylish bags using military surplus fabric?  Unlike so many of us who have great ideas but lack the initiative to bring our dreams to fruition, Emily and Betsy actually created a viable business that is providing great jobs for some of our veterans.

The ladies launched Sword & Plough in 2013, but given their service to our country, let’s just say early business meetings were a bit of a challenge.  According to the Sword & Plough website, “When Emily deployed to Afghanistan in 2013, Sword & Plough had just launched on Kickstarter. We built our business even while our CEO was deployed in a war zone – often cutting our Skype conference calls short due to incoming mortar fire or other military emergencies. The founding team was separated by eight time zones, so conference calls always happened during odd hours of the day (and night).”

Sword & Plough is all about providing gainful employment for their brothers and sisters in arms.  According to Emily and Betsy, “By incorporating veterans into every stage of the business (as designers, managers, sewers, quality control experts and even models), the company could empower veteran employment. And through its branding and outreach, Sword & Plough could help bridge the civil-military divide. The bags could be used as conversation pieces and the company could become a platform to bring public awareness to veteran issues.”

Well Emily and Betsy’s mission seems to be working.  I urge you to check out the Sword & Plough website to snag a great bag, see all the recognition the firm is getting and learn about all the good they are doing. I never cease to be amazed at the hard work Americans like Emily and Betsy will exert to build a business that makes great products, but also creates great jobs for members of our extended American family.  If I had been in the military, I would end this post with some typical military phrase.  But sadly I wasn’t, so I will end with the only military phrase I know which I got from watching MASH: That is all!

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Not that kind of American Field!


Fields

I haven’t posted in quite a while, but it wasn’t laziness on my part I assure you.  Rather, I have been working like a strap on my new website Homerica.  Homerica is your one stop for everything you need for your American home; it will truly be an American home since every product featured on Homerica is made by members of our extended American family.  I have also been blogging on Homerica’s blog, Stories of Home, so I urge you to start following that blog as well as this one!

I recently became aware of an interesting bunch that is promoting American brands at four pop up markets over the next few months.  American Field is holding events in Boston (September 12-13th), Washington D.C. (October 17-18th), Atlanta (October 31-November 1st) and Brooklyn (November 21-22nd).  If you are an American maker, you can become an American Field vendor; the pricing for the events is very reasonable.  $750 for a basic booth, $1,500 for a premium double booth.  If you are an American crafted product aficionado, you can show up to (1) buy great American products, (2) visit with other American kindred souls, (3) talk to a slew of great American makers and (4) eat and drink with said American kindred souls and American makers.  And the price of admission is …….nada.  Just show up and engage in the four activities set forth above.

American Field was started by Mark Bollman, the owner of Ball and Buck.  Ball and Buck is based in Boston and makes lots of clothing for American fellas.  American Field plays a critical role, in my opinion, in allowing ordinary Americans to meet American makers and allowing American makers a inexpensive outlet for selling their wares and connecting with American consumers.  Last year, 7500 people attended American Field’s two pop up markets.  This year more than 120 American brands have joined American Field and the numbers are on the rise.  God only knows how many people will attend this year’s four American Field markets, but given the fact that American Field has been getting a lot of press recently, the numbers will probably be huge.

So I urge you to attend one of American Field’s four pop up markets this year, meet the makers, eat a lot and support the members of our extended American family by purchasing the products they craft.

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