ETSY – Birdhouses by Hubler Furniture Co.

If I were a bird and needed a home...

When you think screen printing the first thing to pop in your mind isn’t usually a birdhouse but thankfully Todd Humbler made that connection. His series of modern bird houses have screen printed wood grain in bright colors that stand out to us humans but might blend in easily with the trees for creatures of the forest giving those inhabitants some added protection. The screen printed collection is made of birch plywood coated with Spar Urethane for protection from the elements and is toped with a removable ceramic tile.

Todd also has a series of birdhouses made from reclaimed and scrap pieces of wood. These have a more minimalist feel but maybe thats the way your birds roll.

Available on Etsy.

Recycled Military Surplus Bags by Sword and Plough

Used by soldiers, made by soldiers, re-used by civilians.

There are a lot of civilians out there carrying and wearing on the streets what the military has inspired in the field, but those two different worlds just came together in a much bigger way. Officer Emily Núñez wanted to give back to her fellow soldiers in need and honor her family military history. Armed with spirit, smarts, and style Emily founded Sword & Plough, an accessory and bag collection made from re-used military surplus materials. Decommissioned parachutes, tents, and sleeping bags are cut, sewn, and fashioned into fashionable items worthy of the most style conscious shoulders. More important than that is the social impact that comes from veterans earning a working salary from crafting these pieces. Sword & Plough has partnered with Green Vets L.A., a non-profit that gives veterans overcoming injuries and trauma an opportunity to earn a living salary. Check out their Kickstarter to get in on pre-retail sales and just an all around fantastic deal.

KICKSTARTER – Stock Mfg. Co. Spring/Summer 13 Menswear

Affordability and Democracy in fashion.

Stock Manufacturing Company, a small clothing and accessories company based in Chicago, has brought together local designers, makers, and you for a truly collaborative effort in creating their Spring/Summer collection. They have launched a Kickstarter with a number of backer levels all including some premium goods made right in their 45 year old Chicago factory space. In exchange for your choice of ties, shirts, pocket squares, and hats Stock Mfg. Co will be using the proceeds to make upgrades in their factory facility to keep expanding and creating work. New designs are introduced and put to the test by making you the ultimate creative director. If something doesn’t get enough support then it doesn’t make the cut. Those designs that pass the grade are made with quality materials and techniques and always with an affordable price that won’t make you pass up investing.

KICKSTARTER – Fragrances by Commodity

A direct and tailored fragrance experience.

Sometimes there is just not enough coffee beans around to rebalance the nose after a long tight rope of fragrance testers. An upstart in the fragrance biz Commodity Goods wants to change that model and do some of the heavy smelling up front by matching you with a personalized selection of their fragrances based on some questions they ask you up front. A tester kit is sent out and you get to choose what you want to wear for the long haul. They can also do this at a fraction of the cost with a direct sales model and are now offering packages on their Kickstarter. Their aromatic oils span the globe from the best possible sources and they have teamed up with an 160 year old French fragrance house to develop the line. All of the scents will be bottled in Los Angeles in a beautifully minimal designed bottle.

Available from Commodity.

ETSY – Jewelry by AltanaMarie

As a child artist Altana Frantz spent hours collecting found objects that most people might consider junk and making beautiful things from them. These days she is using a bit finer materials like bronze, gold, and silk to create her pieces, but each one makes you feel like it lived a previous life before taking shape into a “wearable sculpture”. Her rings, bracelets, and necklaces are hand forged in bronze, gold, or silver and then are finished in a number of ways to give them a vintage feel. Sometimes she plates pieces with rose gold using an environmentally safe plating system which is cyanide free which gives the metal a warm peachy feel. Some pieces are oxidized or sand-blasted to give them texture.  All of her materials are recycled, eco-friendly, environmentally safe and sustainable, and ethically mined. All of her processes avoid the use of caustic chemicals.

Check out her work on her Etsy page.

KICKSTARTER – Gustin Denim

Home grown more affordable.

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American made premium denim can be a steep investment with a lot of brands pushing the $300 mark. It is an investment for good reason with hand stitching, quality domestic fabric, and years of life ahead but boutique denim crafters Gustin aim to make quality American denim more assessable. Right now their Kickstarter is offering funders their handmade denim at under $100 essentially taking out the retailer mark-up. That is the model they want to continue to follow. This round of product will feature domestic Cone Mills denim and each pair is of course made stateside in San Francisco. Check out their Kickstarter and get involved for a great deal on some jeans you will be loving for a while.

More info at Gustin.

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Sam Thompson of Kivi Did

Handmade with a little help from some robots.

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CNC…Shopbot…whatever you want to call it, the computer numeric controlled router has revolutionized woodworking making way for faster production, incredibly precise cutting, and new forms. With these machines becoming more accessible and affordable furniture makers and designers are able to put them to use on smaller projects. Industrial designer Sam Thompson has done just that letting the robots do the rough shaping and detailed work leaving him the dirty work of sanding and hand assembly. I should say that the robots just dont have the heart and soul needed to finish the collection of warm household items that Sam has designed. Each starting with a canvas of a solid block of maple or mahogany.

kivi_did_traykivi_did_trayPerhaps the most interesting examples of this human and non-human pairing are Thompson’s trays and bowls that have delicate smooth curves. The “45°” trays and “Big Square” bowls combine modern shapes and lines with a simple mineral oil finish to bring out the beauty of the wood and to bring beauty to any table top.

kivi_did_bricklightkivi_did_bricklightInspired and made from a solid block of mahogany resting near Thompson’s desk, the “Brick Light” also features the natural beauty of wood and a little more of the CNC machine’s accuracy with perfectly placed holes for decorative illumination. Above is a picture showing the process from start to finish and a look at the interior fitting for the light.

kivi_did_matchlightkivi_did_candlebarAdding onto his simple and functional objects built for illumination, Thompson has also built a task lamp inspired by a match stick aptly named the “Matchstick” light. Like an ignition fuse, the bright red power cord is tucked away in the light maple body and shows just enough to give the piece a pop of color. The “Candle bar” is made of two pieces of maple machined to snap together and neatly hold four tea lights.

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Thompson has even taken control of his packaging by screen printing the box that houses his Matchstick light. His objects are available directly from Kivi Did and at their Esty page.

100%Materials and labor all American. Even the robots.

KICKSTARTER – Soma Water

A water filter you won't want to hide away.

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Water…one of those precious and necessary resources that we often take for granted. A resource that somehow has ended up in plastic bottles on supermarket shelves supposedly from natural springs across the world or in plastic pitchers in our refrigerators each with its own charcoal filled filter housed in a thick plastic casing destine to spend thousands of years in a landfill. All of this to try and recreate what happens naturally. The soon to be Kickstarter funded Soma water carafe finally brings good design, functionality, and an all natural and sustainable filtering process to the table. Teaming up with designer and water filtration expert David Beeman who has consulted with some of the biggest brands out there, the Soma team offers a filter that is composed of a starch-based PLA plastic that is 100% compostable. Inside, water is filtered through burnt coconut shells and a vegan silk fabric to yield crisp clean water that is truly filtered naturally.

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Also, instead of keeping track of when to change your filter by remembering to coordinate your trips to the store with a digital meter, Soma operates on a subscription model that ships new filters to you when you need them.

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The filter is housed in an attractive glass carafe that reminds me of the pour-over Chemex coffee carafes. No more ugly plastic pitchers that need to hide away. Last but not least, the Soma is promised to be produced in the U.S. Be sure to check out their Kickstarter right here to get yours.

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CustomMade is making custom easier

Matching Makers' Skills with Shoppers' Dreams

We are all used to them. Impersonal and automated shopping experiences. Going through a check out line in the same way we did 5 years ago using the same scripted interchange or not having to deal with a person at all shopping online from our bedroom late at night. In most of these experiences do we even know who made the item, where it was made other than the country printed on the label, how it got there, or what it has to do with the place you found it at?

CustomMade CEO and co-founder Mike Salguero found himself asking those same questions and after a few custom made suiting and clothing experiences was firmly convinced of the alternative to big box retailers and cheaply made goods. He discovered CustomMade through co-founder Seth Rosen who was using the existing site to have a coffee table built and the two ended up buying the company in 2009.

Today CustomMade is a flourishing online market place with hundreds of talented artisans making well built jewelry, furniture, and art right here in the U.S. And this is not your typical one-click shopping experience. Consumers are able to browse artisans, see current and past projects, post their own project, and hire a maker to create their vision. You get the experience of working directly with the person responsible for every detail of a finely crafted piece of work and the satisfaction of knowing that you are supporting a growing community of skilled artisans not some big box warehouse.

Check out CustomMade and see what you could help create for yourself.

Bava Table

Bava Table by Wonderwoods in IA

Branch Ring

Single Branch Ring by Rachel Bertoni Designs in NY

Jory Side Table

Side Tables by Jory Bright Designs in CA

Kapel Chair

Kapel stacking chairs by Chapel Designs in TX

Sara Cramer necklace

Necklace by Sara Cramer in Kansas City

Bad Larry

Bad Larry console by Four Eyes Furniture in CA

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ETSY – Reclaimed IPE Coney Island Boardwalk Trivet

Rest your hot dogs on a piece of history.


About 3 years ago the New York City parks department began replacing parts of the very weathered Coney Island boardwalk and simply throwing away a landmark. Luckily conservationists like Martins Straupe & Kurt VonEllers were able to claim some pieces of their own and come up with an attractive modular design for a trivet. Each piece is made from IPE wood reclaimed from a 2010 renovation of the boardwalk and is hand-notched and then sanded by hand in Jersey City, New Jersey. The number of formations you can make could be limitless but this collection is limited so head on over to Etsy to claim yours.

Available at the dfnqline shop on Etsy.

100%Materials and labor all American.