Rinne Allen and Alabama Chanin first crossed paths almost a decade ago, when Rinne attended one of Natalie’s early “Alabama Adventure” weekends—which included picnics, short workshops, music and storytelling. (Those early weekends became what is now our annual company picnic + workshop weekend.) After that, it seemed that we began to cross paths more frequently—at Southern Foodways Alliance events, through friends, logically, working together became the most natural next step. Rinne has produced photography for the Alabama Studio Book Series, our collections, the website and Journal—and she perfectly captured the process of our Alabama Cotton collaboration with Billy Reid—including a beautiful piece for the New York Times online magazine.
Rinne currently lives and works in Athens, Georgia. One glance at her website shows her distinctive eye and diverse skill set. She can find and photograph a special moment in any environment and she seems to have an innate understanding of light. She also has a keenly developed understanding of natural elements. In fact, she and her husband Lee have spent the last 15 years maintaining the garden of Dr. John Linley, the late professor of landscape architecture at the University of Georgia.
For the last two decades, Rinne has worked as both a commercial and fine art photographer. In addition to Alabama Chanin, she also collaborates with Hable Construction, R. Wood Studio, and Selvedge Magazine. Her long-running series Harvest, documenting harvests across the south, is published regularly in T Magazine, The New York Times Style Magazine. She works regularly with artists and authors, notably with Hugh Acheson on his James Beard Award winning cookbook, A New Turn In the South. Her book, Citizen Farmers, made with farmer Daron Joffe, won the 2015 IACP award for Food Matters. Currently, Rinne—along with Kristen Back and Rebecca Wood—curates a beautiful website, Beauty Everyday. The accompanying book, Beauty Everyday, which highlights 365 beautiful photographs of the South, can be purchased in our online store.
She has created a unique, natural light drawing process that combines elements from her garden with alternative photo processing methods she learned in some of her early college photography classes. She and her mother gather clippings from the garden and place them on specially treated light sensitive photo paper and lay them in the sun. After a certain amount of exposure to sunlight, a cyanotype emerges. Each of these beautiful pieces is completely one of a kind. A selection of Rinne’s light drawings are now available through our website for a limited time.
Rinne’s work has been featured alongside Alabama Chanin, Butch Anthony, and Mr. John Henry Toney, as part of the Alabama on Alabama exhibit at Heath Ceramics’ Boiler Room in San Francisco. This Sunday, August 16th at 3:00pm, she will present “A Harvest Talk” at The Boiler Room wherein she details the process behind the creation of the Harvest series. The event is free. For those unable to attend the event, we invite you to explore Rinne’s work in detail. Visit her website for just a glimpse of her talent.
P.S.: Check back often as we add more of Rinne’s light drawings to our website over the coming weeks.
July has been a busy month of preparing for (and then traveling to) the Boiler Room in San Francisco for the launch of our month-long show, Alabama on Alabama. Follow along on Instagram to keep up with our time there and mine and Maggie’s train ride back home.
Two years ago, Cathy Bailey and her son Jasper came to visit Maggie and me in The Shoals via train. It was Jasper’s spring break and they boarded the California Zephyr to Birmingham by way of Washington D.C., and traversed the entire country to spend time in North Alabama. Needless to say, Jasper and Maggie became fast friends, our collaboration with Heath Ceramics continued to grow, Cathy and I became even better friends, and the next year, they came again. In a few short days, Maggie and I will be taking the California Zephyr to San Francisco. We’ve come to call it “Jasper’s Trip,” since Jasper has given me (and Maggie) a renewed love for trains.
This week we reach the three-year anniversary (and the 10,000-follower milestone) of our Instagram account. We’ve enjoyed the projects you’ve shared through #theschoolofmaking and the meals you’ve had at The Factory through #alabamachaninfactorycafe. Thanks for all of the ongoing conversations and for following along…
When I was a little girl, I started a postcard collection. Postcards were then—and are now—a low cost memento of a trip (and a low stakes investment for a parent to make on a souvenir). I don’t remember how old I was when I started accumulating these paper treasures, nor can I identify the first postcard that found its way into the old shoebox that housed the collection. As any collector knows, there is often no clear rhyme or reason behind why something appeals to us. It sometimes requires years of study for a true collector able to identify trends and collecting tendencies. After a half of a century of amassing them, I have begun to understand that the postcards were my first connections to travel and to experiencing the world.
I can look through the shoebox and clearly see that early postcards reflected my grandparents’ trips to Florida—to visit a rogue branch of our family that left north Alabama for parts unknown. The photos were of places and attractions that felt exotic to a child. Finally, I made my first trip to the Florida panhandle and Panama City—what today we call the “Redneck Rivera”—when I was 5 years old. After an overnight drive with my mother and a group of her friends, I awoke as we neared our destination and declared, “It snowed!” because the beaches were so white. A collection of 1960s style post cards document that trip: Goofy Golf and images of white sand and turquoise blue waters.
A few years later, my cousins moved to Texas and my grandparents’ adventures expanded. I received postcards from Hot Springs, Arkansas, the John Fitzgerald Kennedy Memorial in Dallas, Texas, and all the stops in between. My Aunt Elaine took a job as a teacher with the Armed Forces and set off for the Azores, and my collection grew further. I remember clearly sitting down across from her with a spinning globe between us, searching for the tiny archipelago of islands off the coast of Portugal. From there Elaine began to send a series of postcards that documented every stop of her travels. As my collection continued to multiply, friends and family members would purchase postcards for me from every place they went. Sent and delivered from around the world, these small rectangles of paper most likely created in me a need to travel and see as much as I could in my life.
If there’s something we have learned from our DIY community and The School of Making programming, it’s that our fellow makers can be passionate and prolific. In a world focused on “fast fashion” we are constantly inspired to see so many taking time and effort to create meaningful things.
Quite a few of you have participated in Me Made May over the course of the last month. For the uninitiated, Me Made May was dreamed up by Zoe Edwards, a blog writer who, for the past 5 years, issued a challenge for makers across the globe to wear clothing they have created, during the month of May. While not everyone can wear something handmade every day, many have taken up the challenge with gusto.
So for May’s Month of Instagram, we are posting some of your beautiful photos of Me Made May garments alongside Alabama Chanin’s photos. If you participated this year (and have not done so already), please post your photos to Instagram and Twitter using the #mmmay15 hashtag – and also #theschoolofmaking, if yours is an Alabama Chanin garment.
Photos courtesy of @catcounts, @differentmeasure, @ebbandsew, @goodyarmamona, @heyallday, @hisclementine, @kaygardiner, @krrbsale, @lauramaedesigns, @lavalark, @making.it, @mbmoore, @melaniefalick, @qoyah_yisrael, @reneeplains, @subloke, and @yarnonthehouse
P.P.S. Use our new hashtag #theschoolofmaking to share your latest Studio Style DIY project.
For many of us who call ourselves “mother”, there are two types of children in our lives: those that are born to us and those that come into our lives and become “ours” for life. For me, this was the case with Agatha Whitechapel, daughter of my dear friend (who I commonly refer to as, simply, “Whitechapel.”) I think of her as a version of her collages, fully realized – a lifelike composition of images pasted together to create a portrait. Adopted daughter to me; young girl grown up; mother of Elijah; photographer; and, finally, friend. Agatha cut her teeth in Europe of the 1990s, traversing between London and Vienna. Agatha’s school was the keen eye of her mother, music video film-sets, and the world of skateboards. When I met her, she was a 12-year-old girl, fascinated with hearing and telling elaborate stories. According to Agatha, she has taken her “childhood obsessions with fantasy and storytelling and turned them into visual explosions with as much colour, pop and pomp” as she can possibly fit into one picture.
Dust-to-to-Digital is a unique recording company that serves to combine rare recordings with historical images and descriptive texts, resulting in cultural artifacts. We have previously written about several of their collections that resonate so well with our brand. We believe in preserving traditions, and Dust-to-Digital truly speaks to that with their historically rich albums. We revisit one of their books, Never A Pal Like Mother: Vintage Songs & Photographs of the One Who’s Always True, for Mother’s Day.